In this week’s Solar News Roundup, the world’s largest solar plant goes live in China, while in the U.S., solar generation has grown over 20% through the coronavirus pandemic so far.
Largest solar plant in the world goes live in China
In China’s remote Qinghai province, the world’s largest solar plant is now online. The project is a massive 2.2 gigawatt (GW) solar plant backed by a 202.8 megawatt (MW) energy storage system. Construction began in November of 2019, and the storage system was deployed between this May and September.
Interestingly, the project is entirely built with monocrystalline, bifacial solar modules (supplied by an unknown manufacturer). Bifacial solar panels generate electricity with both of their sides, leading to higher overall energy output than traditional monocrystalline, one-sided solar panels. To handle the power output, inverter company Sungrow supplied 900 MW of string inverters that keep the system running and producing usable electricity.
Through the pandemic, solar continues to grow
Two weeks ago, we discussed a report on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. solar market in Q2. Since then, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released their updated Electric Power Monthly report, providing additional insights into how the ongoing pandemic has impacted solar in the U.S.
The headline is a positive one: even amidst the pandemic, from January to July this year, solar-generated electricity grew by 22.2% compared to the same time period in 2019. Additionally, wind grew by 13%, and the combined net electrical generation from wind and solar is 15% higher than last year.
Even more broadly, renewables continue to grow. During the first half of 2020, renewable energy contributed to 12.4% of total energy production in the U.S., up from 12.0% last year during the same period. “Notwithstanding a generally hostile Trump Administration and the challenges posed by the coronavirus, renewable energy sources continue to expand their share of the nation’s energy use and electrical generation,” said Ken Bossong, an executive at SUN DAY Campaign. “They have now taken the lead over nuclear power and coal and — with the right policy support — are poised to accelerate their growth in the years ahead.”