The largest photovoltaic plant in Europe NOW produces cheaper energy than a new nuclear power plant in France.
A solar farm in Cestas near Bordeaux (Gironde – France), is the most powerful solar farm in Europe, the facility was inaugurated in early December 2015, during the UN Climate Conference in Paris. Its capacity is 300 MW, and covers a 250-hectare site near to the French city of Bordeaux. It was connected to the grid earlier this month and has already begun producing solar power at a price cheaper than the offered it by new nuclear plants. Cestas will sell its solar power at a price of €105 per MWh over the next 20 years, a price that is on par with the cost of wind power and is cheaper than the cost of a new nuclear power. The oldest nuclear power stations in France, built in the 1970s and 1980s, provide nuclear power for around € 55 per MWh, but new nuclear power plants, such as the polemic Hinkley Point’s central in the UK, are raising to supply the energy at a price guaranteed by the government of about €130 per MWh.
Renewables are gaining ground
With fossil fuel diminishing and climate change on the rise, the world is looking for more environmentally clean energy sources to be the new champions of our global energy war. Stepping from the ashes of the coal giants and the other fossil fuels, the great warriors of nuclear and solar energy emerge.
Solar energy is classified as a renewable energy source, since it is a source of energy that can theoretically regenerate and replenish itself indefinitely. While some argue that nuclear energy should also be classified as renewable, most agree that it is, more accurately, a sustainable energy source. This means that while nuclear power may not be seen as infinite, the rate that it is consumed is insignificant compared to the amount of the supply.
In 1954, the Russian installation APS-1 was the world´s first nuclear power plant that generated electricity for commercial use. Today, there are around 450 nuclear power plants worldwide. The US is home to 99 of those power plants, which is more than Russia (35), China (35) and India (21) combined.
In 1941, the first solar cell was invented. Today, there are over 75 solar thermal power stations around the world that have a combined capacity of over 4,810 MW, enough to power more that 1.7 million homes during peak hours.
Among the largest solar energy projects in the world are: (source: energydigital.com and imeche.org)
- Solar Star, California, USA: It is currently the largest solar energy project in the world and consists of two co-located plants in the counties of Kern and Los Angeles in California which make up the 579 MW Solar Star project.
- Desert Sunlight, California, USA: This solar farm is located in Riverside County in California and has a capacity of 550 MW. The property’s resources are shared between NextEra Energy, GE Energy Financial Services and Sumitomo Corporation of America. The energy produced by Desert Sunlight serves 160,000 households in the county and avoids the emission of about 300,000 tons of pollutant CO2 gas each year.
- Golmud Solar Park, Qinghai, China: The photovoltaic solar park Golmud has a capacity of 500 MW and is located in the province of Qinghai, China. The project was built in 2009 and entered service in October 2011. Phase IV, which is currently under construction, will add another 60 MW of additional capacity.
Other larges solar farms:
- Topaz Solar Farms, California, USA: 550 MW.
- Copper Mountain, Nevada, USA: 458 MW.
- Charanka Solar Park, Gujarat, India: 345 MW.
- Longyangxia Solar, Qinghai, China: 320 MW.
ENERGY SOURCE COMPARISON: NUCLEAR vs SOLAR
Nuclear power generates around 10.6% of the electricity used around the world while solar energy supplies less than 6.3%.
When looking at horrific accidents like the disaster in Chernobyl, nuclear energy’s reputation takes a turn for the worse, making it seem like an extremely dangerous form of energy. With the fear of harmful radiation, radioactive wastes and the possible threats of nuclear reactor meltdowns, many people want to move away from nuclear energy.
France is a big fan of nuclear energy with over 75 percent of their electricity coming from nuclear power plants .Our friends in France make nuclear energy look very enticing since they’re the world largest net exporter of electricity, they also rank second in total nuclear power generation at 419 billion kilowatt hours with the United States in the lead at 798 billion kilowatt hours.
Contrarily, Germany and China has paved the way in solar energy production with over 80,000 megawatts of installed photovoltaic power between them.
Solar energy has an incredible generation capacity, especially in the places in the world that receive a good amount of solar radiation all year. In those places during peak hours, every square kilometer can receive about a gigawatt of solar energy.
Also, if you take a nuclear power station and the whole clear area around it, and you cop that land with solar panels, you would generate more clean energy with solar than the nuclear power station.
The United States however doesn’t seem to be as big of a supporter of solar power. The US has around 25,000 megawatts of installed photovoltaic power.
In conclusion, both nuclear and solar energy have great potential as power sources of the future, if there’s one thing for certain the world can always use better advancements in our energy protection so that we can continue to fuel our ever advancing society.