When the 10-megawatt Bavaria Solarpark began operations at three German sites in 2004–with 62 acres of silicon panels able to power several thousand homes on sunny days–it was one of the largest photovoltaic plants in the world. Now, bolstered by high energy prices and government incentives, a new crop of photovoltaic power plants–including one that might produce 10 times as much electricity (see table below)–are planned around the world. The market for solar cells is doubling every 18 to 24 months, says Michael Rogol, a solar-industry consultant. While thin-film solar technology is lighter–good for rooftop applications where weight is an issue–larger solar-power installations tend to use silicon-based technologies, which require less acreage and wiring for a given electrical output.
Zhonghao New Energy
Investment (Beijing, China)
Up to 100 megawatts by 2011
Dunhuang City, China
Acciona (Madrid, Spain)
62 megawatts by 2010
SunEdison (Baltimore, MD) and SkyPower (Toronto, Ontario)
Up to 50 megawatts by
the end of 2009
Three to five 10-megawatt
sites in Ontario
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