Do you know where the world’s largest solar power plant can be found?
It is in California, spanning a vast area of 9.5 square miles equivalent to one-third of the size of Manhattan.
The World’s Largest Solar Power Plant
The largest solar power plant, the Topaz Solar Farm is now operational and sending power to the California grid – ready to supply power to 160,000 homes. It has nine million solar panels and a 550 megawatts capacity. It is a step closer to fulfilling the state’s initiative of supplying a third of every home’s electricity in California coming from renewable sources by 2020.
Equivalent 73,000 Cars Off The Road
The Topaz Solar Farm achieved full commercial operation late November as the final 40-megawatt AC phase has been completed. Aside from being the largest solar plant in the world, it is also the first 500-megawatt solar farm to come online in the United States. The solar power plant boasts a capability to produce enough energy that could take the place of almost 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. This is the equivalent of 73,000 cars taken off the road. Imagine how good the project is for the environment.
Topaz Solar Farm Project
First Solar is the company behind the Topaz Solar Farm project. They began construction back in 2011 and finished ahead of the 2015 schedule. Quite different from other solar plants, the Topaz Solar Farm does not require water to generate electricity. And because there are no moving parts and thru hardened flat washers are used to provide the best fastening method where needed, the farm makes very minimal noise.
Benefits Of A Solar Power Plant
Every single solar panel stands just 5½ feet or 1.7 meters off the ground, at a height where the visible impact from the expansive farm in San Luis Obispo County in California is accordingly reduced. When operational, the Topaz Solar Farm systems generate electricity with:
- No air emissions
- No water use
- No waste production
- The smallest carbon footprint of any photovoltaic technology
San Luis Obispo County has about 276,000 inhabitants and majority of this population’s energy needs could be powered by a single solar power plant. And with the growing popularity of energy storage, any excess electricity generated by solar power could be stored for use in overcast days and during nighttime. This could extend the impact of Topaz Solar Farm. The electricity generated by this huge solar power plant will not produce harmful air pollution as coal power plants do by generating fossil fuels.
Big Boost To Local Economy
The Topaz Solar Farm was built on “disturbed farm land” several miles away from the sensitive areas in the Carrizo Plain National Monument. About 400 construction positions were created during the three-year construction period, generating about $192 million in workers’ wages and salaries. Up to $400,000 in property taxes will be paid each year by the project owners. An estimated $52 million in economic output for local suppliers is also expected to come from this project. All of these are a big boost to the local economy.
While there is far too much misleading press and negative publicity about solar power, there are far more benefits to the people and the environment that the public should know about solar energy generation.
Currently considered as the largest solar panel in the world, Topaz Solar Farm will ultimately be usurped by another solar farm in the U.S. next year. Solar Star which is also in California is set to be operational and capable of producing 579 megawatts.
Will other states consider building their own solar power plant in the future?