Business & Economy

The black sunflowers of Konya

By Ilya U. Topper

Konya, Turkey, Mar 5 (EFE).- A vast plain of black in the Turkish province of Konya looks from afar like a charred desert but it is in fact a field where sunlight is used to produce power.

The Kalyon PV solar power plant in Karapinar town, one of the largest in the world, spans over an area of 20 square kilometers (7.7 square miles), which is 10 times the size of Monaco.

“It is the largest solar power plant in Europe and one of the largest in the world,” Burak Dogru, the facility’s director of operations, tells Efe.

“Our project is in the phase of being completed. When it is finished, it will cover the electricity needs of 2.5 million people. Producing this energy prevents the emission of 1.5 million tons of CO2 every year,” he adds.

Kalyon, one of Turkey’s biggest multi-industry firms, started building the plant in 2020 with 1,374 MW of energy capacity, more than double that of the largest plant in Europe, which is located in Spain.

With a yearly average of 2,700 sunshine hours, Konya in the Central Anatolia region was the ideal place for the project because there is plenty of space and soil.

In winter, heavy snowfalls are common, but while in other similar facilities, the black panels get covered by snow for days, they are spotless in Kalyon due to their automatic rotating system.

The panel assembly is used for solar tracking throughout the day, Dogru explains, adding panels face the source of light like a sunflower.

This system leaves panels clean with no snow residues, according to Dogru.

“Our plant has 3,256,000 modules. They are produced in our Ankara factory from silicon raw material, and then they are assembled here,” Dogru says, stressing that 80% of the components are manufactured in Turkey.

The panels, he explains, have crystals on both sides, so they also transform indirect light reflected by the ground into energy.

Currently, the engineer supervises the plant from a booth, but the control and management building next to a vast field of transformers is almost complete.

“Our plant has 312 power inverters and uses 8,500 kilometers of cables; with that, you can go around Turkey twice,” says Dogru.

In the engine room, large red numbers on a digital panel read “883.47 MW”, the total number of megawatts the plant is currently producing.

A row of computers with infinite green squares is set to check module operations and energy production and if a failure is observed, plant technicians drive through to locate the failed board and replace it with another or just fix it.EFE


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