NEW YORK: The world’s largest solar photovoltaic power plant is now fully operational in Yuma County, Arizona, investors NRG Energy and MidAmerican Solar have announced.
The Agua Caliente solar project, which is supported by the US Department of Energy through a US$967 million loan, has the capacity to generate 290 megawatts (MW) of solar electricity, enough to power a quarter of a million American homes.
The solar plant will sell electricity generated to Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) under a 25-year power purchase agreement.
The clean, reliable power produced by the plant will cut carbon dioxide by 324,000 tons, which is the equivalent of taking almost 70,000 cars off the road.
Tom Doyle, President of NRG Solar, commented: “Large-scale utility accomplishments, like our Agua Caliente project, raise the bar in terms of our clean-energy technology and production.”
“Proving that we can build both the world’s largest solar thermal and now one of the world’s largest solar photovoltaic facilities advance NRG’s mission to reshape the energy landscape that is incredibly beneficial to both the economy and in how we produce and consume energy,” Mr. Doyle added.
Construction of Agua Caliente began in August 2011 and to date 400 people have been employed in the building of the PV plant, which has 4.9 million solar panels.
The US Government has showed significant commitment to solar energy and just last week President Obama announced over 300 new commitments which aim to realize the full potential of the rapidly expanding US market, as well as promote greater energy efficiency.
President Obama's pledge will usher in over 850 megawatts of solar electricity – the power needed to run close to 130,000 American homes
In 2013, approximately one quarter of new power generation capacity was from solar energy, and over the last three years the cost of solar has declined by over 50%. Furthermore, the American Solar Foundation recently revealed that 1 in every 142 US jobs added in 2013 was in the solar industry, a 19.9% increase on 2012's figure.
Obama’s pioneering stance on solar expansion is also reflected by his decision to install solar panels on the roof of the White House. Last week an installation of solar panels was completed, with officials stating that within eight years the energy efficient panels will have paid back the up-front cost.
US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz noted that “solar panels on the White House are a really important message that solar is here, we are doing it, we can do a lot more”.
Cyrus Wadia of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy stressed that every aspect of the solar panel installation was American, from the technology used to the labor employed. “It serves as a symbol that American technology in solar is available, it’s reliable and it’s ready for millions of Americans across the country,” the official remarked.
Watch the below video for further information on the White House solar project.
Image and infographic courtesy of US Department of Energy
By Alana Ryan