Sunny Size Up
World’s largest solar power plant planned for Portugal
The world’s largest solar power station, which would cover over 600 acres and could produce up to 116 megawatts of electricity, is planned for an economically depressed yet sun-drenched corner of Portugal. The almost $550 million project, if approved by the Portuguese government, would effectively reclaim an abandoned fool’s-gold (aka pyrite) mine in the country’s southern Alentejo region, and include a solar panel factory on site. But the mostly German investors financing the project are no fools: The bright, barren region gets some 175 kilowatt-hours of sunlight per square foot each year. Says the managing director of the company that owns the site, “This is definitely one of the sunniest spots in Europe.” Once completed — construction would take four to five years — the vast array would be visible from space and supplant the current world-record-holding solar facility, which produces a measly five megawatts of electricity on about 50 acres near Leipzig, Germany.