Like many other countries around the world, the US is embracing more renewable energy sources as it seeks to reduce fossil fuel consumption and reduce its carbon footprint. The world’s largest economy has built some of the largest and most impressive solar farms in the world that have helped bring the country’s solar capacity to well over 92 gigawatts. Below we take a look at the top 5 largest solar farms in the USA
1. Solar Star, California
Completed in June 2015, Solar Star is the biggest solar farm in the US and also the biggest in the world. The plant has around 1.7 million solar panels on over 13 square kilometers in Kern and Los Angeles Counties, California. The Solar Star project is made up of two sections; Solar Star 1 and Solar Star 2 with a capacity of 314MW and 265MW respectively. The entire project generates 579 MW of energy enough to power 255,000 homes. It is worth noting here that there is a solar farm in Indiana currently under construction that will surpass the Solar Star to become the largest solar farm in the USA once completed.
2. Topaz Solar Farm, California
Topaz solar farm was started in 2011 and completed in 2015 and one of the biggest solar farms in the US. The project is located in California. The solar farm sits on more than 15 square kilometers of land and it generates enough power for 160,000 households. The Topaz solar farm has a total capacity of 580 MW. According to a market study, the project produces power that is able to replace around 407,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide in a year. This is equivalent to a reduction of 77,000 cars from the roads.
The solar panels are mounted on 1.5-meter long steel columns and the panels are laid to create large geometric shapes and also has access roads.
3. Ivanpah Solar, California
The Ivanpah Solar is the third-largest in the US located at the base of Clark Mountain in California. The solar plant was built by BrightSource Energy and Bechtel at a cost of $2.2 billion. NRG Energy is the largest investor in the project, having contributed $300 million towards its construction. The solar facility has a capacity of 392 MW. The project’s first unit was connected to the electrical grid for testing in 2013. The Ivanpah Solar project was launched in 2014 and it was the largest solar plant in the world at the time. There are more than 300,000 solar panels installed at the facility.
4. Agua Caliente Solar Project, Arizona
The Agua Caliente Solar Project is located in Arizona and occupies an earlier distributed agricultural land on the White Wing Ranch. The site was selected thanks to the availability of a lot of sunshine as well as the minimal transmission infrastructure. The Agua Caliente Solar Project was completed in 2014 and has a generation capacity of 290 MW.
The project was initially constructed by NextLight Renewable which was later acquired by First Solar in July 2010. NRG Energy took over the project from First Solar in 2011. The entire facility cost $1.8 billion to put up.
The first phase of the project was launched in December 2011 with a capacity of 39 MW. The second phase was completed in April 2012 and has a capacity of 100 MW while the third phase was launched in July 2012 and has a generation capacity of 247 MW.
5. The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, Nevada
This is a concentrated solar power (CSP) farm located in Tonopah in Nye County, Nevada, US. The facility sits on more than 1,600 acres of public land administered by the US Bureau of Land Management. The solar farm has an operational lifespan of 30 years.
The Crescent Dunes Solar was started in 2011 and has a capacity of 110MW. It is the first utility-scale solar power plant in the US and has its own energy storage technology. It is also the largest solar farm with integrated energy storage technology. The facility was constructed at a cost of $1 billion.