The importance of energy needs increases substantially with the effects of scientific developments, technological improvements and human population growth. Because of excessive consumption of non-renewable energy resources and rising expenses, the vast majority of nations are in constant search of new resources. In Turkey, electricity produced from solar energy systems plays a key role in supplying energy demands because the geographic location of Turkey is suitable to benefit from solar energy systems. In this study, the construction of solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant within the Malatya Province of Turkey was identified by using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology. Within this framework, many effective factors were generated including solar energy potential, roads, energy transmission lines, transformer centers, slope, aspect, location of dams and rivers, natural gas pipelines, fault lines, land cover and residential areas. Using the Analytical Hierarchy Process method, factor weights were then calculated. As a result of all these processes, a map was presented demonstrating the optimal locations for solar energy plants. Finally, results were compared with existing solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants. An empirical study that produces the most optimal solution for decision makers to site selection for solar power plants has been realized. (C) 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.