As of November, the Italian city of Rovigo is home to the largest photovoltaic (PV) solar plant in Europe, SunEdison announced today.
SunEdison, a subsidiary of the silicon wafer manufacturer MEMC Electronic Materials, is right, but even it admits the claim comes with a qualifier by calling the 70-megawatt plant "Europe's largest single site solar farm."
For there are many large-scale solar projects both in existence and under way in Europe involving more megawatts, but very often those announcements of super-megawatt projects are really a series of smaller, interconnected PV farms spread out over a region.
Brandenburg, Germany's Finsterwalde Solar Park, for example, is considered by many to be Europe's largest solar PV plant. But it is technically a series of three interconnected plants referred to as Finsterwalde I, Finsterwalde II, and Finsterwalde III. Together they make up 81 megawatts. While Spain is also known for its aggressive adoption of solar power, the country contains mostly solar farms in the 10- to 30-megawatt range. Olmedilla Photovoltaic Park, currently Spain's largest solar PV farm, is 60 megawatts.
So it would be fair to say that SunEdison has developed the largest PV solar plant in Europe contained in one single location. And that location is Rovigo, Italy, a small town located roughly between Bologna and Venice, which prides itself on being "the city of change."
Perhaps it should also be known as the city that quickly changes. The solar park got final approval from the Italian government in March, and was completed and connected to the Italian electric grid as of this November. The 70-megawatt PV plant is expected to generate enough electricity annually to power 17,150 homes.
Maybe the fast-tracked project had to do with the competence of SunEdison, its recent financing progress as a company, or Isolux Corsan, the Spanish construction company SunEdison commissioned to built the PV solar farm. But it's worth noting that the project also had the complete backing of the Italian government from federal through local levels. Rovigo, Italy, also happens to be a member of CLEAR (City and Local Environmental Accounting Reporting). It's an EU initiative in which member towns agree to implement environmental accounting and sustainability plans as part of standard government budget operations.