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2010 Mega Projects

Renewable energy development continued at a good pace in 2010, with record-breaking projects being announced as often as one a week. Here we present a list of the biggest renewable energy electricity generation projects installed or completed during the year.

Hydro 

The largest project that began operation in 2010 also holds the record as southeast Asia's largest hydroelectric power station. The first of six turbines at Vietnam's Son La station was grid connected in late-December.

Officials said that the 2400 MW plant is expected to be fully operational in 2012, three years ahead of a National Assembly target. 

The second largest to go online in 2010 is in Laos, the 1070 MW Nam Theun 2 project commissioned in December. It is co-owned by EDF, the Laotian government, the Electricity Generating Public Company of Thailand and Italian-Thai Development.

After five years of construction, the plant began supplying Thailand in March 2010.

Next was Brazil's 855 MW Foz do Chapeco hydropower plant, which began commercial operations in 2010.

The plant is 51% owned by utility group CPFL Energia and sits on the border of southern states Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina.

Offshore Wind

The largest offshore wind projects that were completed in 2010 are all located in Europe.

Some 10 km off the coast of the UK's Kent coast, the 300 MW $1.2 billion Thanet Offshore Wind Farm officially began supplying power to the UK grid in the last quarter of the year.

Next was Rødsand II, a 207 MW extension of an existing Danish project that was developed by E.ON. It was originally slated to come online in 2011 but was instead commissioned in July 2010.

Construction of the 180 MW Robin Rigg Wind Farm, was completed in April 2010.

It is E.ON's third offshore wind farm and is the first commercial offshore wind farm in Scottish waters. The 60-turbine site began full generation in April 2010.

In third place was the 172 MW Gunfleet Sands Offshore Wind Farm which came online in June and is situated 7 km off Clacton-on-Sea in England's northern Thames Estuary.

Onshore Wind

In 2010 two 300 MW sites and a 201.6 MW extension ranked as the largest installed offshore wind projects of the year.

The 300 MW CGN Inner Mongolia Huitengliang project was developed by China Guangdong Nuclear Power and was fitted out with 200 1.5 MW turbines manufactured by China's Oriental Turbine Factory.

The 300 MW Streator Cayuga Ridge South Wind Farm, located near Streator, Illinois, officially started generating power in May 2010.

It was developed by Iberdrola, which was also responsible for the third biggest US wind farm brought online in the US in 2010.

Iberdrola also developed the UK's 322 MW Whitelees Wind Farm-Europe's largest onshore wind farm to date.

Solar PV 

Europe dominated very large solar PV project announcements in 2010. However, Ontario Canada's expanded Sarnia PV plant with a 97 MW capacity was the largest PV power plant commissioned over the year. The second through to eighth biggest plants were built in Italy, Germany and Spain.

Geothermal 

A number of large geothermal projects came online in 2010 with the biggest at the Rotokawa field in New Zealand. The 132 bMW Nga Awa Purua plant is the largest single-turbine project ever developed.

The turbine was manufactured by Fuji Electric and the power plant is owned and operated by Mighty River Power.

The second-largest plant was in Italy at the Larderello field, a resource-rich area that has been delivering energy since 1930. The Nuova Radicondoli 2 and Chiusdino 1, both 20 MW, also came online in 2010. The turbines were manufactured by GE and the project is owned and operated by Enel Green Power.

The third biggest geothermal project fully completed in 2010 was in Kenya, with the 35 MW expansion of the Olkaria II power plant.

The addition brings the project to 105 MW and makes it the largest in Africa. The turbine was manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and is operated by the Kenya Electricity Generation Company.

Transportation Fuels

The US and Brazil were the most favourable locations for new ethanol plants this year.

In the renewable diesel space, there were two developments of note in 2010.

Dynmic Fuels brought online a sythentic diesel plant that produces renewable fuels from non-food grade animal fats. In addition, operations began at Finnish firm Neste Oil's new site in Singapore. Its NExBTL renewable diesel is produced from a mix of palm oil, rapeseed oil, and waste fat from the food industry.

In 2011, look for announcements from two waste-to-fuel companies. Enerkem, expects to have a 10 MGPY plant that produces ethanol from non-recyclable and non-compostable municipal solid waste (MSW) in Edmonton, Alberta CAN.

Construction began on the facility in June 2010. Fiberight has a 6 MGPY plant that is set to begin operation in 2011 in Blairstown OH. The plant will use MSW as a feedstock.

Power Storage 

Research and development is underway on energy storage solution.

The largest lead-acid energy storage system in operation is a 10 MW system in Chino, California, built in 1988. The first commercial compressed-air energy storage system is a 290-MW unit built in Hundorf, Germany in 1978, and it remains the world's largest CAES install.

The largest sodium sulphur (NaS) battery installation is a 34 MW unit for wind stabilisation in Northern Japan.

The largest pumped-hydro operation in the world is in Lewiston in Niagara with 2880 MW, which went online in 1961.

That was followed by a plant in Virginia, US with 2700 MW of capacity, which went online in 1985.The third largest operation in the world is in Guangzhu, China. This 2400 MW facility went online in 2000.

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