The 15 Largest Solar Farms in the World 2024

Solar power is gradually taking over the energy industry, with global solar capacity growing by about one terawatt (TW) of capacity by the end of 2022. Part of this growth is undoubtedly down to solar panel costs dropping by 82% since 2010.

By 2025 solar capacity around the world is expected to reach around 2.3 TW — someway off the 432 TW needed to provide all of Earth’s electricity needs, but progress nonetheless.

The bulk of the current capacity isn’t from residential solar panels, but commercial solar farms. With more incentives, lower costs, and better technology, solar farms are spreading across the world.

We’ve investigated the 15 largest solar farms in the world right now, looking at capacity, total investment, as well as looking at the future of solar power around the world.

Birdseye view of a solar farm in a desert

The world's largest solar farms

1. Golmud Solar Park — China

The Golmud Solar Park in China is the world's largest solar farm with an installed solar capacity of 2.8 GW, putting it just above the second entry in our list.

It’s a hugely impressive site with nearly seven million solar panels all working to deliver clean energy. China has big ambitions for the Golmud Solar Park as well — they’re hoping to reach 16 GW within the next five to six years.

To put that into context, a single gigawatt could power one million UK homes for an hour, or around 100 million LED light bulbs.

Images showing the top five largest solar farms in the world, 1. Golmud Solar Park. 2 Bhadla Solar Park. 3. Pavagada Solar Park. 4. Mohammed Bin Rashin Al Maktoum Solar Park. 5. Benban Solar Park.

2. Bhadla Solar Park — India

Bhadla, the second largest solar farm in the world, has an astonishing 2.7 GW capacity and covers 160 km2 — that’s equivalent to 10% of the entire surface area of London, or more than double the size of Manhattan (59.1 km2).

It benefits from near-perfect conditions too, with the Rajasthan region getting 5.72 kWh per m² per day of solar irradiation on average — a typical 300 sunny days per year is a big boon to the solar farm as well.

What’s more is that the area gets just four inches of rain per year, which makes it all but inhospitable for humans, and ideal for soaking up constant sunshine.

Like some of the other large solar farms on this list, Bhadla was commissioned by multiple corporations auctioning off set amounts of solar capacity.

The Solar Energy Corporation of India auctioned off 250 MW capacity for example, with 27 companies all submitting bids.

3. Pavagada Solar Park — India

India is clearly on the right track with their solar farms, with Pavagada Solar Park holding firm in third place. At 53 km2 it’s still at an extraordinary scale compared to many of the solar farms below.

Pavagada has a 2.05 GW capacity, and is another exciting slice of the country’s developing renewable energy plans. Costing $2.1 billion, the solar farm makes up a good chunk of the $29 billion India has spent on developing renewable energy since 2018.

View of a solar farm at dusk

4. Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park — UAE

For a nation best known for their vast oil reserves, the United Arab Emirates being in the top five for largest solar farms might be surprising. But the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park (MBR), at 76 km2, puts the UAE firmly in the spotlight.

Despite being bigger than the second and third largest solar farms, MBR doesn’t quite reach the same power output — yet. MBR plans to expand its current capacity of 1.63 GW to around 5 GW by 2030, possibly earlier.

It already provides power to 270,000 homes and offsets roughly 1.4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year. That’s good, but with the UAE having one of the highest emissions per capita globally, much more remains to be done.

MBR is also the most expensive solar farm on this list, and by some margin. Over the course of its multi-phase construction, $13.6 billion has been invested.

5. Benban Solar Park — Egypt

Benban Solar Park in Egypt is Africa’s largest solar farm and the fifth largest in the world. It makes sense too, with the area having a colossal solar potential of 6.3 kWh per m2 per day.

Costing $4 billion and with a capacity of 1.61 GW, Benban provides power to hundreds of thousands of Egyptian homes.

It’s a big part of the country’s Nubian Suns Feed-In Tariff programme, which aims to encourage more businesses to invest in renewable energy initiatives.

6. The Tengger Desert Solar Park — China

China’s solar ambitions are clear for all to see, with another huge solar farm making its way onto this list.

The Tengger Desert Solar Park currently powers around 600,000 homes with its 43 km2 of solar panels, which have a combined capacity of 1.51 GW.

The biggest solar farms by surface area

Solar farms size comparison in acres

7. Noor Abu Dhabi Solar Power Project — Abu Dhabi

The Noor Abu Dhabi Solar Power Project might not be the most powerful at 1.17 GW, or cover the largest surface area at 8 km2, but it is the world's biggest single-site solar farm.

That means it covers the widest expanse of land with unbroken solar panel arrays, which provide power to roughly 90,000 homes.

What’s really cool about this solar farm is the army of robots they use to clean the solar panels. Each day the waterless robots travel 1,600 km, removing dust and other debris from the installation.

They’re designed to clean panels without using water, to save what is a precious resource in this desert region.

8. Datong Solar Power Top Runner Base — China

The Datong solar farm in Xinjiang is interesting because once finished, it’ll have a capacity of over 3 GW, which would make it one of the biggest solar farms in the world.

There is controversy surrounding the farm however, with rumours of forced Uygur labour being used in its construction — an accusation against China that isn’t unique to this solar farm either.

Large circular power plant of solar panels in Spain. There is the reflection of the sun in the the panels which produce renewable energy, solar energy

9. Jinchuan Solar Park — China

Jinchuan Solar Park can be found in China’s northern region, like many of their other solar farms.

Abundant sunshine and a semi-arid environment make it well suited for soaking up plenty of solar energy — a 1.03 GW output capacity which can power thousands of nearby homes.

10. Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park — India

This 1 GW capacity solar farm in India’s Kurnool district is capable of powering almost the entire area during peak sunshine hours.

That’s roughly 8 GWh when there’s little to no cloud cover, a common occurrence in a region that sees just 35–40 rainy days every year.

11. Yanchi Ningxia Solar Park — China

Yanchi Ningxia Solar Park in China has an impressive array of 2.5 million solar panels with a capacity of 1 GW for cities nearby.

The solar park also doubles as a goji berry farm, which has helped turn a once-barren desert into a thriving oasis that benefits the local communities. Goji berries are planted under and around the solar panels, and then harvested throughout the year.

12. Villanueva Plant — Mexico

Costing $710 million and capable of powering almost 1.2 million homes in Mexico, the Villanueva Plant is the largest in the Americas.

Its horizontal single-axle design means it takes up less space than is typical for solar farms. Over a year, the Villanueva Plant can generate around 1.7 terawatt hours.

13. Kamuthi Solar Power Station — India

The Kamuthi Solar Power Station is another entry for India, which combined has the fifth largest solar capacity of any country in the world.

This solar farm has a capacity of 0.65 GW and generates electricity for approximately 265,000 homes in the Tamil Nadu state.

14. Francisco Pizarro — Spain

Europe just managed to get into the top 15 with the Francisco Pizarro Solar Plant in Spain, a 0.59 GW solar farm capable of powering around 334,400 homes.

That’s equivalent to removing 150,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere every year. Interestingly, during construction of the solar farm extensive archaeological remains dating back to ancient and medieval times were found.

All steps were taken to ensure their protection and responsible excavation.

15. Solar Star — US

For a country with the second-highest solar capacity, behind only China, it’s surprising to see the US only has a single entry on this list.

Nonetheless, the Solar Star solar farm in California is one of the most advanced solar farms in the world.

It uses the more expensive crystalline silicon for its solar panels, which gives it greater efficiency while covering a smaller surface area than other solar farms with a similar power output — 0.58 GW over 12 km2 of land.

Graphic showing the locations of the world's largest solar farms

The best countries for solar power: how does your region compare?

With five solar farms in the top 15, China is currently the best country for solar power. That’s true even looking at the residential scale, which combined with solar farms brings the country’s total solar capacity to 306,973 MW.

That’s 35.8% of all installed solar power in the world, putting the country much further ahead than the US in second place, who manage a comparatively small 11.1% of the world’s solar power capacity.

India, despite having the second most solar farms in the top 15, comes fifth place for installed solar capacity. This is down to having far fewer solar panels at the residential level, which you can see in their low watts-per-capita figure in the table below.

Here’s the top 10 countries by installed solar capacity:

The future of solar farms

Solar farms will continue to play a huge part in making clean energy more widely available, especially for people who might not be able to install their own solar panel systems.

They also represent an essential tool in the planet’s fight against the climate crisis, because of the huge potential they have to drastically reduce emissions.

Alternative types of solar farms, such as floating solar farms or  agrivoltaic farms, might also become more common in the coming years.

Here’s how the future of solar is shaping up around the world:

 

The future of solar in the UK

The United Kingdom has made no secret of wanting to hit net-zero emissions by 2050, and solar will be at the forefront.

Solar farms already make up part of the UK’s renewable landscape, even though there’s far less land to work with than in many other countries.

Shotwick Solar Park is currently the biggest, with a capacity of 72.2 MW — enough to power some 14,000 households and offset 24,000 tonnes of CO2 every year.

More projects are in the pipeline too, including one from Cleve Hill Solar who have started the process of building what will be the largest solar farm in the UK.

Cleve Hill Solar Park will be eight times larger than Hyde Park and will have around 800,000 solar panels — a leap up from Shotwick’s 270,000 panels.

Longfield Solar Farm in Essex is another proposal, but it's certainly not without its critics who argue the loss of good farmland isn't worth the benefits of clean, solar powered electricity.

One spanner in the works for solar in the UK is planning permission refusals, which are currently at their highest rate for five years.

Clearly a balance needs to be struck between developing solar farms, preserving wild areas, and using the country’s extensive brownfield land — right now ground-based solar covers just 0.1% of UK land, according to a report from Carbon Brief.

To compare, golf courses currently take up twice as much land as solar panels.

It's still encouraging to see the popularity of solar panels in the UK continue to increase.

In fact, 69% of Brits said they would by a property that had solar panels installed, according to our latest National Home Energy Survey, up from 65% last year.

If you want to see how much it would cost for you to go solar, use our solar panel cost calculator.

The future of solar in Africa

With 25% of the continent of Africa dominated by desert, and large areas benefiting from as much as 5.48 kWh per m² per day of direct sunlight, the potential for solar development here is huge.

The main roadblock right now is money, with the International Energy Agency saying Africa needs around $2 trillion in investments in reliable, sustainable and affordable power infrastructure over the next two decades.

China currently leads investment in Africa’s energy sector, committing almost $37 billion — though only a fraction of this has gone to solar.

The future of solar in Asia

The vast solar farms of China and India means Asia sits atop the solar world at both a commercial and residential level.

China’s 217 watts-per-capita might be lower than many countries in Europe and the US, but factor in the population of 1.4 billion people and that number looks a lot more impressive.

Their goal to reach 600 GW of solar power by 2030 is ambitious, though analysts don’t see it as unrealistic. Energy think tank Ember said China could well hit this target as early as 2026.

India too is hoping to reach 300 GW by 2030, which combined with Japan’s 150-GW goal, the Phillipines’ 30 GW, and Indonesia’s 5 GW, brings Asia’s capacity to 1.4 TW in only eight years.

The entirety of Europe by comparison is aiming for 1 TW by 2030, showing just how ambitious Asia’s solar plans are.

 

The future of solar in Europe

Much has been made of Europe’s struggles during the ongoing energy crisis, and it’s this critical problem that has prompted many governments to take solar power more seriously.

As of July 2022, 19 European governments have accelerated their decarbonisation plans in response to the crisis.

EU countries have also committed to increase how much electricity they generate from renewables by 2030 from 55% to 63%.

Planned power generation from fossil fuels in 2030 has been reduced by 31% — that’s 272 TW of dirty electricity slashed from plans previously drawn up in 2019.

That’s the scale of the impact the energy crisis has had on the European continent, because the volatility of fossil fuels has become painfully obvious.

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and the interruption to the flow of gas to some of Europe’s biggest economies has meant solar targets have had to increase.

Germany, who imported 55% of their gas from Russia in 2021, now aims to reach 200 GW of solar capacity by 2030, adding to the 53.8 GW in 2021. Italy, at 40%, wants to reach 52 GW and the Netherlands, who imported 15% of gas from Russia, has set a solar power target of 27 GW.

Future of solar in the Americas

The US is the big powerhouse of solar in the Americas right now, with 75 GW of installed solar capacity and around 112 GW of utility-scale solar projects under development.

In contrast, the entirety of South America has just 29.8 GW, which is surprising when you look at the immense solar potential of parts of South America, such as the Atacama Desert for instance.

This barren landscape can reach as high as 6.84 kWh per m2 per day — only Yemen with 7.5 kWh per m2 per day is higher.

Much of the focus is on the US then, which plans to increase solar capacity to roughly 413 GW by 2030. A lot of this will come from large-scale solar farms — the proposed installation in Indiana is a good example.

It will stretch over 53 km2 and provide power to 275,000 homes annually, crossing over two counties and involving as many as 60 landowners.

Regions to watch in the solar space

Australia has drawn up plans for what could become the biggest solar farm in the world, assuming China’s Golmud Solar Park doesn’t reach 16 GW within the next five or six years.

The Newcastle Waters solar park, located in the outback of Australia’s Northern Territory, will have an installed capacity of 10 GW and developers have said that it’ll be big enough to be seen clearly from space.

It’ll be operational by 2026 and will power hundreds of thousands of Australian homes with clean electricity — a scenario that’ll hopefully improve the country’s woeful CO2 emissions per capita, which are the highest of any Western nation bar Canada at 15.5 tons.

Despite South America’s limited solar capacity right now, Brazil came in fifth place in 2021 for new solar power added with 5.5 GW connected to their grid. Korea, with only 100,110 km2 of land, added 4.2 GW in 2021.

Conclusion

While it’s great to see solar power capacity increase and more solar farms built, one negative factor stands out — monopolisation.

As of September 2022, 74% of the global PV market was controlled by the top 10 countries by solar capacity. If the world is to make a genuine switch to clean, renewable energy then more must be done to give poorer countries access to affordable solar power.

A study by Oxford University found that switching to renewables could save the world as much as $12 trillion by 2050.

For developing countries already hamstrung by increasing gas and oil prices, this has the potential to ease the burden on economies and raise the living standards of billions around the globe.

Throw in the added bonus of combating climate change and it’s a win-win situation.

Written by:
Tom Gill
Tom joined The Eco Experts over a year ago and has since covered the carbon footprint of the Roman Empire, profiled the world’s largest solar farms, and investigated what a 100% renewable UK would look like. Tom has a particular interest in the global energy market and how it works, including the ongoing semiconductor shortage, the future of hydrogen, and Cornwall's growing lithium industry.
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