More huge utility-scale solar plants are coming online in California – Topaz Solar Farm and Desert Sunlight.
Located in the southeast corner of San Luis Obispo
County, Topaz is now producing 300 megawatts (MW) of power, on its way to 550 MW when it’s completed next year. The solar PV plant will bring energy to 160,000 homes.
Near Palm Springs, First Solar is building Desert Sunlight, which is expected to starting generating 300 MW this month – also growing to 550 MW upon completion.
And Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is now fully operational at 377 MW – the biggest concentrating solar plant in the world.
“Particularly with the drought, hydro power production is down and there needs to be more solar power,” Bill Magavern, policy director for the Coalition for Clean Air, told The Sun.
Solar Doubles in California
If California were a country, it would be the fourth largest for the amount of solar installed – in the past year, utility-scale solar plants grew from a record-breaking 1.24 gigawatts (GW) to 3.04 GW (the output of about 13 coal plants).
Add in the 2 GW from thousands of rooftop systems – which also doubled last year – and you’ve got two-thirds of the 200,000 solar installations across the US.
That’s expected to nearly double again by 2020 – the deadline for renewable energy to provide 33% of California’s electricity.
Wind energy is also projected to double. Between solar and wind, California will have 18.7 gigawatts (GW) of renewables by 2020, says the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, up from 10.7 GW now.
Across the US, there are 4.7 GW of utility-scale solar online with another 27 GW in 30 projects under construction. Within the next few years, they will be serving 5 million US homes. In total, the US passed the threshold of 10 GW of solar last year.