Solar Farm

What is a SOLAR FARM?

Solar farms (also known as solar parks or solar fields) are the large-scale application of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to generate green, clean electricity, usually to feed into the grid, with advantages from the effect of scale.

Solar Farm, peak power 3.8 MWp (Source: Artelia / Exosun)

Solar Farm, peak power 3.8 MWp (Source: Artelia / Exosun)

The main goal of developing solar farms is to reduce the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of solar power thanks to scale effect, in order to make it competitive with other conventional power plants. Recently, solar farms have been showing up with a lower LCOE compared to old-fashioned power plants using coal, for instance.

Like for any solar projects, the advantages of solar farm are:

  • Producing an environmental-friendly power: no dust, no smoke, no CO2 emission during operation
  • Taking advantage of unlimited energy source (the sun).
  • Warrantying power output over a long life-time (up to 25 years)

On the other hand, a solar farm, as it requires a large land area, has to go through a rigorous planning process before approval, in order to reduce the risk of negative competition with other land uses. Other points of concerns are the potential environmental or social impacts of a solar farm (for instance when there is a risk of natural land clearance) and the possible effects on the power grid due to the intermittency of the solar output.

Also, its output power will depend directly on the weather conditions (solar irradiation), rather than on the actual power needs. Besides, the initial investment (CAPEX) is often seen as a barrier to the development of such projects, along with a rather long payback time.

Nevertheless, there is a growing interest on solar PV farms in Vietnam, thanks to

  • High solar irradiation, especially in the South of Vietnam, with land availability
  • Cost reduction for initial investment, making it competitive with other convention power plants

A feed-in tariff is expected to be issued soon by the Central Government of Vietnam