The photovoltaic capacity installed worldwide has now passed the 300 gigawatt mark. In the dynamically expanding markets, especially the market leader China, multi-megawatt power plants account for the large part of deployment. Increasing numbers of large-scale projects are also being developed and connected to the power grid in North and South America, India, in the Middle East and Africa. According to GTM Research, the global market for PV power plant operation and maintenance (O&M), as well as asset management, has reached a volume of around 182 gigawatts (GW). With a total installed output amounting 100 GW in Europe in 2016, the continent remains the largest O&M market. The current trend, for example, encompasses high-tech control rooms for remote operation and maintenance, employing state-of-the-art control, maintenance and forecasting systems, and also deploying drones and robots.
According to new research from IHS Markit, system prices for large-scale plants could fall in 2017 by 38% in comparison with 2016 as a result of the decreasing prices of photovoltaic components. With bids of less than 3 US cents per kilowatt hour of solar power, the call for tenders of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) for the Sheikh Maktoum Solar Park (phase III) stand testament to how cheap power from PV power plants can be in sunny regions. In both established and new markets, the bankability and investability for large-scale PV projects is improving as a result of the reduced costs and therefore clear profitability. Calls for tender and PPAs ensure that the income from solar power can be easily calculated, and experienced developers help minimize risks in planning, construction and operation.
The largest photovoltaic power plant in the world at the moment is located in Kamuthi, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. With a nominal power of 648 MW, it has outdone the previous record holders Solar Star (579 MW) and Topaz Solar Farm (550 MW), both in California. In the third phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the DEWA and Masdar are set to install 800 MW of photovoltaic capacity. Plans for gigawatt-scale projects have also been announced for the autonomous region of Ningxia (China), and the exclusion zone around Chernobyl in Ukraine.