The largest solar PV installations in the U.S. are the 21 megawatt installation in Blythe, CA and the 14 megawatt photovoltaic solar farm at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. [Correction, according to solar maven Tom Cheyney, the largest PV power plant currently operating in the U.S. is the FPL DeSoto 25 megawatt plant.] The largest PV project in the world is the 60 megawatt project in Castilla-La Mancha, Spain.  But there are a large number of projects (both photovoltaic and solar thermal) in various stages of planning that will dwarf those developments:

This is just a partial list of proposed developments.  Here's a list of the top 50 global PV projects.  You can see a list of proposed renewable energy projects in California here.  The 238 California projects total more than 67 gigawatts.  They are not all solar -- there are many wind and a few transmission line projects, as well.  Some are applying for federal stimulus funds, some are not, and many of them will not reach fruition.  Still, these are big goals and huge-scale projects.

Now add to that list the 500MW Edwards Air Force Base PV project, which recently moved one step closer to reality.  The Air Force Real Property Agency and Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) have executed an "agreement to lease" that sets the stage for this enormous project.      

Mark McLanahan, Senior VP of FRV, said, "This is a clear signal to the market that we are a utility-scale project developer.  And we believe that utility-scale solar is for real."

The deal, called an Enhanced Use Lease, gives Fotowatio access to the site to conduct environmental and transmission studies.

Fotowatio worked with the U.S. Air Force when MMA Renewable Ventures developed the 14 megawatt Nellis site.  MMA was purchased by Fotowatio in 2009 and has transitioned into a large-scale project developer for solar.  FRV's global portfolio now includes projects producing more than 130 megawatts with more than 1,000 megawatts in development. 

As for the technology, "We will continue to be technology-agnostic, but we are not company-agnostic." Nellis was comprised of PV from SunPower, SANYO, SunTech and Evergreen Solar.  McLanahan added, "It doesn't make sense to commit to a specific technology - 3 years is a long time in solar." 

So how big will the project be?  McLanahan says, "By 2013, it will be feasible to look at 100 megawatts, and there is potentially 500 megawatts of space depending on permitting and off-take, although it's too early to answer that question."

On working with the Air Force, McLanahan adds, "We need to be more transparent and by-the-book as a developer than on private land.  We expect more, not less, scrutiny on this site."