Late last month, the Topaz Solar project achieved full commercial operation with the completion of its final 40-megawatt (AC) phase. This is the first 500-megawatt plus solar farm to come on-line in the U.S. and the largest solar plant on-line in the world.
Two years ago, the millionth First Solar (FSLR) solar module was installed at the power plant owned by MidAmerican Solar. As of today, the project has installed 9 million solar panels across 9.5 square miles in San Luis Obispo County on California's Carrizo Plain. Construction began in 2012 and was expected to be complete in early 2015 -- so call this an on-time delivery.
The solar farm was not the recipient of a loan guarantee and is built on "disturbed farm land" miles away from sensitive areas in the Carrizo Plain National Monument. First Solar suggests that the project will create $192 million in pay for approximately 400 construction positions over the three-year build and "$52 million in economic output for local suppliers." PG&E will purchase the electricity from the Topaz project under a power-purchase agreement.
Followers of ancient history will recall that this project was originated by OptiSolar and that some of the Topaz real estate was once intended for an Ausra CSP solar power plant.
Here's a chart showing the top three U.S. PV power plants under development in the U.S.
|Project Name||Developer||Capacity (MWac)||Capacity On-Line as of 11/14||State||Offtaker||Owner|
|Topaz Solar Farm||First Solar||550||550||CA||PG&E||MidAmerican Energy Holdings|
|Desert Sunlight||First Solar||550||524||CA||PG&E, SCE||NextEra Energy Resources, GE Energy Financial Services, Sumitomo|
|Solar Star||SunPower||579||309||CA||SCE||MidAmerican Energy Holdings|
Source: GTM Research's Utility PV Market Tracker
Check out the GTM Research Utility PV Market Tracker for much more information on utility-scale solar deployment in the U.S.