Top 5 US solar parks

Solar power is more affordable, accessible and widely used in the United States today than it was ever before. The progress and potential of solar power development in the country is staggering. Solar power capacity of the US has grown from approximately 0.34 GW in 2008 to approximately 97.2 GW in 2021.

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Markets for solar power are maturing rapidly across the US. The average cost of solar photovoltaic panels has dropped by nearly 70% since 2014. Solar power is now economically competitive with conventional power in most states. Moreover, the solar power industry is a proven incubator for job growth throughout the country.

Jobs related to solar power have increased by 167% in the US over the past decade. This is five times faster than the overall job growth rate in the country. There are more than 250,000 solar workers in the country in fields spanning manufacturing, installation, project development, trade, distribution and more.

The giants leading this movement are US solar farms, the top five largest of which are given below:

1. Copper Mountain Solar Facility: 

  • This humongous solar farm is located in Clark County, Nevada. It covers over 4,000 acres of land and was completed in five units. When the first unit of the solar farm entered service in December of 2010, it was the largest photovoltaic plant in the US. With the fifth unit of the solar farm commissioned in March 2021, it has again become the largest photovoltaic plant in the country. The total cost of construction of Copper Mountain Solar Facility is over $1.5 billion, which was used to erect 9 million photovoltaic modules.
  • The solar park’s total capacity is 816 MW. It generated 1,392,080 MWh of electricity in 2020. Out of this, Copper Mountain Solar 1 generated 124,000 MWh, Copper Mountain Solar 2 generated 371,568 MWh, Copper Mountain Solar 3 generated 629,015 MWh and Copper Mountain Solar 4 generated 267,497 MWh.
  • The entire facility is owned and managed by Sempra Generation, a subsidiary of Sampa Energy.

2. Mount Signal Solar Farm:

  • Also known as Imperial Valley Solar Plant, this giant solar farm is located in Imperial County of California and is spread over 5,200 acres of almost barren farmland.
  • The construction of Mount Signal Solar Farm was done in three phases: the first phase went online in 2014; the second phase went online in 2020; and the third phase went online in 2018. The total cost of construction of Mount Signal Solar Farm was approximately $1 billion.
  • The solar farm comprises more than 3 million photovoltaic modules, which rotate on a north-south axis and track the path of the Sun. The 600 MW project was developed and constructed by 8minutenergy Renewables.

3. Solar Star: 

  • This solar farm is located in Kern County of California and is spread over more than 3200 acres of land. Solar Star is divided based on two separate installations. The construction of Solar Star 1 was started in 2013 and completed in 2015 while the construction of Solar Star 2 was started in 2013 and completed in 2014.
  • When the solar farm was commissioned in 2015, it was the largest photovoltaic plant in the world. The estimated investment in the construction of Solar Star was about 2 billion dollars, which was used to install 1.7 million photovoltaic modules.
  • The total capacity of Solar Star is 585 MW. The solar farm produced 1,682,700 MWh of electricity in 2021. Out of this, Solar Star 1 produced 892,353 MWh while Solar Star 2 produced 790,347 MWh. The entire facility is owned by BHE Renewables of Berkshire Hathaway Energy and operated and maintained by SunPower Services.

4. Topaz Solar Farm: 

  • Located in San Luis Obispo County of California, this solar farm is built on multiple sites totalling a site area of nearly 4,700 acres.
  • The construction of Topaz Solar Farm was started in November 2011 and completed in November of 2014. It was briefly the largest photovoltaic plant in the United States when it was commissioned. The total cost of construction of Topaz Solar Farm was over 2.5 billion dollars.
  • The 550 MW farm comprises 9 million cadmium telluride photovoltaic modules based on thin-film technology. It generated about 1,300,788 MWh of electricity in 2020. Owned by MidAmerican Renewables of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, the solar farm was developed and is operated and maintained by First Solar.

5. Desert Sunlight Solar Farm:

  • This solar farm is located in Riverside County of California and its site area is nearly 3,900 acres. Construction began in 2011 and the solar farm was built in two phases. Completed at a cost of $1.5 billion, the plant was commissioned in 2015.
  • The plant comprises 8.8 million cadmium telluride photovoltaic modules, which were produced by thin-film manufacturer First Solar. The overall capacity of Desert Sunlight Solar Farm is 550 MW. Desert Sunlight 300 has a capacity of 300 MW and will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric Company. Desert Sunlight 250 has a capacity of 250 MW and will be sold to Southern California Edison.
  • The solar farm generated about 1,269,124 MWh of electricity in 2019. Out of this, Desert Sunlight 300 generated 658,462 MWh and Desert Sunlight 250 generated 610,662 MWh. The co-owners of the entire 550 MW plant are NextEra Energy Resources, GE Energy Financial Services and Sumitomo Corporation of America.

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