The US is one of the countries that are leading the way in renewable energy shift across the world. With a manifold increase in its solar power installations, the North American nation has witnessed growing contribution of solar power to its renewable energy mix in recent years.
Renewable energy capacity in the US increased to 229.9GW in 2017 from 116.4GW in 2008, according to a report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). While its wind power generation capacity increased from 24.6GW to 87.5GW in the period 2008 to 2017, its solar capacity surged to 42.8GW from 1.6GW.
Here is the list of top five biggest solar power plants in the US:
Solar Star: Located in Rosamond, California, the 579MW Solar Star power plant is the first in the list of biggest solar power plants in the US. Covering 3,230 acres, the Solar Star is also one of the biggest solar farms in the world. The Solar Star development includes two projects co-located in Kern and Los Angeles counties. Formerly known as Antelope Valley Solar Projects, the development of the solar installation included two projects co-located in Kern and Los Angeles counties. Construction on the project was commenced in early 2013 by SunPower and was completed in June 2015. The plant uses more than 1.7 million monocrystalline silicon modules manufactured by SunPower. Southern California Edison signed two long-term power purchase contracts to purchase electricity generated from the projects. Power produced from the Solar Star is sufficient to meet electricity needs of nearly 255,000 homes.
Topaz Solar Farm: With an installed capacity of 550MW, the Topaz Solar Farm occupies second spot in the list of biggest solar power plants in the US. Located in San Luis Obispo County, California, the power generated from the plant is enough to meet electricity needs of 160,000 homes. The Topaz plant features advanced thin-film PV modules supplied by First Solar. The solar farm offsets 377,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Under a 25-year power purchase agreement, Pacific Gas and Electric Company had agreed to purchase the electricity from the Topaz project.
Copper Mountain Solar complex: Located in Boulder City, Nevada, the Copper Mountain Solar facility has a capacity of 552MW. The facility was constructed in four phases, with the initial phase of the project completed in December 2009. The 58MW first phase of the facility marked Sempra Renewables’ foray into utility-scale solar power projects. In the second phase, a total capacity of 150MW was added to the complex. The Copper Mountain Solar 2 facility, which is s jointly owned by Sempra Renewables and Consolidated Edison Development, produces enough clean electricity to power nearly 53,000 California homes. The third phase of the solar complex saw an addition of 250MW of new capacity, which is enough to provide clean electricity to power about 90,000 California homes. The Copper Mountain Solar 3 was completed in 2015. In the fourth phase, the capacity of the solar complex was expanded by 94MW. Under a 20-year power purchase agreement, renewable electricity generated from the Copper Mountain Solar 4 is sold Southern California Edison starting in 2020.
Desert Sunlight Solar Farm: Located in the Riverside County in California, the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm has an operating capacity of 550MW. It generates enough energy to power more than 160,000 homes and reduce 300,000mt of greenhouse emissions per year. Desert Sunlight Holdings, a subsidiary of First Solar was the developer of the solar-photovoltaic (PV) facility. The solar farm features thin film PV modules delivered by First Solar. Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric agreed to purchase 250MW and 300MW clean energy respectively from the solar plant for 20 years. It is owned by NextEra Energy Resources, GE Energy Financial Services, and Sumitomo Corporation of America.
Mesquite Solar complex: With an installed capacity of 400MW, the Mesquite Solar complex occupies fifth spot in the list of biggest solar power plants in the US. The 400MW capacity at the 4000-acre complex has been built in three phases. Mesquite Solar 1 is the first phase of the complex. Power generated by Mesquite Solar 1 is sold to California’s Pacific Gas & Electric under a 20-year contract. The second phase Mesquite Solar 2, which added 100MW to the complex, was completed by December 2016. In the third phase, the capacity of the Mesquite Solar complex was expanded by 150MW, taking the total to 400MW.