World's largest solar plant featuring over 5 million panels gets switched on in China: 'It looks really cool'


The title “world’s largest” is often a brief designation for wind and solar farms worldwide as they exceed established turbine height, panel count, or capacity limits.

Now, a subsidiary of the China Green Development Investment Group has turned on the “world’s largest” solar plant, a 3.5-gigawatt operation in the Xinjiang region, as PV Magazine reported. Referred to as the Xinjiang Midong solar project, it has more than 5.26 million panels, according to the news outlet. For reference, a gigawatt can power 100 million LED light bulbs.

Reuters reported that the 32,947-acre solar farm in Xinjiang, which came online June 3, will generate about 6.09 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year — enough to power the country of Papua New Guinea for a year, per the news service.

The developer is a state-owned outfit with wind and/or solar projects in 12 provinces, according to the organization’s website.

We adhere to the philosophy of ‘people-oriented, ecology as the root, and culture as the soul,'” the website states.

The new operation was built in stages with a 15.45 billion Chinese yuan (about $2.13 billion) investment, according to PV Magazine. It features monocrystalline bifacial double-glass PV panels and 129 miles of transmission lines.

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Photovoltaic solar power generated about 4.5% of global electricity in 2022, behind hydropower and wind. Solar’s growth was up 26%, with China creating about 38% of the new capacity, in 2022. The European Union and the United States developed 17% and 15% of the increase, respectively, all according to the International Energy Agency.

China seems to have prime ground for the operations. A photo of the site shared by PV Magazine shows rows of solar panels built into a desert setting. The panels extend as far as the eye can see.

“This proves we don’t have to grade the valuable land to install panels,” one reader commented on PV Magazine’s story.

Solar tech innovations are helping the sector’s large operations expand and household setups to become more affordable. Additionally, community solar projects provide a way to tap clean energy without having a single panel on your property. They often include a subscription model that can provide 5% to 20% in savings on your energy bill a year.

Importantly, switching to solar power can prevent 8,500 pounds of planet-warming air pollution annually from being fumed. Lessening the exhaust can limit the world’s heat-up, having an impact in surprising places. Rising temperatures are even impacting school attendance and grades, for example, according to some reports.

In answer, solar innovations continue to be bigger than ever and of very unique designs. A project in the Gobi Desert uses thousands of mirrors to focus light to a central point, creating heat that makes steam to power a turbine.

China Development intends to hit more than 20 gigawatts of renewable energy installations by the end of the year. They just activated a big part of the work order in Xinjiang.

“It looks really cool,” the reader added in their comments.

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