The largest solar photovoltaic power plant inf France has been opend at the Reunion Island.
No candidates in the French presidential election was there. The subject did not make the headlines. Yet progress is notable and commendable: a photovoltaic power (thus photoelectric cells) has been inaugurated in Saint-Denis de La Reunion. Installed on the roof of a huge warehouse, its 6000 panels occupy an area of 8500 square meters. Already connected to the electrical network, it will produce 1.35 MW (megawatts) per year.
This is not the first power plant at the Reunion Island. The island has already many solar, geothermal and wind power plants. At the time of the inauguration, Paul Verges, president of the Regional Council, said that these renewables already represent 40% of electricity produced at the island.
The financial effort – the bill exceeding five million euros – was shared between Region-Reunion, the European Union and ADEME (Agency for the Environment and Energy Management). The activity is expected to generate revenue 520000 euros per year.
In Europe, France does not has the biggest power plant, but in Germany, where Bavaria Solarpark delivers 10 MW since July 2005. Portugal is preparing to beat the record of photovoltaics, European and even global, with the Central de Moura, in the south, which will began to produce energy in January 2007. Its 350,000 solar panels, which will occupy 114 hectares, are expected to provide 62 MW. More quietly, the Swiss also come through. In January, the central Stade de Suisse in Bern, will double its power. The Swiss are a little disappointed with the 520000 kWh produced in 2006 by the solar power plant in Mont-Soleil, in the Bernese Jura, but this production lower than in previous years due to technical problems. They expect, however much that is built on the Jungfraujoch, a peak of 3500 meters, and who should benefit from a return twice as high.
Spread over three sites, 57600 solar panels Solarpark of Bavaria in southern Germany, Bavaria, offer a surface to the sun 250000 square metres and provide 10 MW.
In the United States, there has long preferred solar thermal, where sunlight warms the water to turn it into steam, which rotates alternators electricity producers. The first major installation of its kind was built in 1980 in the Mojave Desert, California. That is the most powerful solar power in the world, Solar Energy Generating Systems, 354 MW. The ambitious Nevada Solar One, which will be put into operation in July, is expected to reach 62 MW.
In ten years, the costs were divided by two or three and continue to be reduced. They will eventually become competitive with those others energies.
Globally, the trend is now irreparably launched. The major world conference on Solar Energy, Solar Power 2006, held last October in San Jose, California, was an big opportunity for a balance sheet. Very marginal today, solar energy production still represents a sector growing by 32% annually, a rate that must envy many industries. Currently, several techniques are in contention but photoelectric cells have the wind in their sails through multiple technological advances. At the Solar Power 2006, the experts agreed that in 2010 photovoltaic electricity is expected to go down to 15 cents per kilowatt hour, which should begin to wreak havoc on traditional modes of production.