What is now one of the largest solar energy projects in the world was just recently brought online in Desert Center, Riverside County, California — in a ceremony that brought out the US Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, and 150 other government and industry figures.
The 550 megawatts (MW) Desert Sunlight Solar Farm — as it’s known — is situated on a ~3,600-acre tract of land in Riverside County, California, that’s managed by the US Bureau of Land Management. The project was permitted, constructed, and is now being operated by First Solar — the same company that supplied the more than 8 million solar modules that the project is made up of.
Power is now being provided by the project to Pacific Gas & Electric Company and to Southern California Edison — both via long-term power supply contracts.
Secretary Jewell commented on the commissioning thusly: “Solar projects like Desert Sunlight are helping create American jobs, develop domestic renewable energy and cut carbon pollution. I applaud the project proponents for their vision and entrepreneurial spirit to build this solar project, and commend Governor Brown for implementing policies that take action on climate change and help move our nation toward a renewable energy future.”
Armando Pimentel, the president and chief executive officer of NextEra Energy Resources (one of the owners of the project, along with GE Energy Financial Services and Sumitomo Corporation of Americas), commented as well: “We wouldn’t be here today without the hard work and cooperation of all our partners. We are proud that Desert Sunlight will help California meet its renewable energy goals and has helped bring much-needed jobs and economic benefits to families and businesses throughout Riverside County.”
The project will reportedly generate enough power to cover the electricity needs of around 160,000 California homes; and to displace roughly 300,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year.
Most of the solar panels in the world are crystalline solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. First Solar, however, produces cadmium-telluride (CdTe) thin-film solar panels. It is consistently one of the top 10 solar module manufacturers globally, and the only one that is in this other category. If you’re a regular reader, you probably know all about First Solar, but if not, here’s a video that captures some if its key competitive advantages:
Image Credit: Desert Sunlight Solar Farm