Aerial Photos Capture the Mesmerizing Enormous Solar Farms Around the World

Large Solar Farm

We talk a lot about renewable energy sources and moving toward a greener future. And in those discussions, solar power is at the forefront. But what does it actually look like to use solar panels on a large scale? Aerial photographer Tom Hegen traveled to three countries to take a look for himself. The Solar Power Series is a look at solar plants and the manmade landscape looking to salvage our future.

Hegen, who takes his images from a helicopter, has long been fascinated by the human impact on the environment. And recently, this has included a deep investigation into alternative energy sources. As part of that look, Hegen was drawn to solar plants and how this new technology—if used properly—could keep the planet powered for generations to come.

“In a single hour, the amount of power from the Sun that strikes the Earth is more than the entire world consumes in a year,” the German photographer tells My Modern Met. “Saying this, the Sun‘s energy would be enough to keep the world running for at least the next five million years. The question here is can we make enough use of that energy?”

Large Cluster of Solar Panels

He was inspired to seek out these solar farms after encountering a cluster of solar fields near the French Alps. It struck him that they looked like endless waves on the hilltops and he set out to look for others. His journey took him to Spain and the United States. As always, the work was a challenge when attempting to create visual magic while photographing from the open door of a helicopter.

“I wanted the mirrors to reflect the morning sky, while the ground was still dark. Other images had been taken during harsh sunlight. Up in the air, it can be very cold. I have to stand against the wind of the rotor blades. It is hardly possible to keep the camera steady. It is actually the worst environment to take pictures. In the end, it‘s only a few seconds when everything comes in line. Often, we were looping around the structures at different heights to find the perfect angle.”

In the end, the effort paid off. The Solar Power Series is oddly mesmerizing, as the panels are laid out in concentric circles or neat rows. The repetitive pattern on the landscape is soothing yet also an odd transformation at the same time. The environment has been inextricably altered by man yet again, but perhaps this time for a greater good. It's an interesting question to grapple with as one is drawn into the work.

See more of Hegen's work, including his series on one of South America's largest lithium plants on his website and Instagram.

The Solar Power Series is a look at solar plants across three countries by Tom Hegen.

Concentric Rows of Solar PanelsConcentric Rows of Solar PanelsConcentric Rows of Solar PanelsConcentric Rows of Solar Panels

All the photographs were taken from a helicopter, with Hegen looking at how this technology is transforming the landscape.

Cluster of Solar PanelsSolar FarmRows of Solar Panels

“The Sun's energy would be enough to keep the world running for at least the next five million years.”

Solar FarmSolar FarmCluster of Solar Panels

“The question here is can we make enough use of that energy?”

Concentric Rows of Solar PanelsThe Solar Series by Tom HegenRows of Solar Panels


The Solar Series by Tom Hegen

Tom Hegen: Website | Instagram | Behance 

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Tom Hegen.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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