Power companies are shying away from “traditional” power plants.
You might be surprised to learn that power companies are shying away from “traditional” power plants that burn coal and oil and instead building massive fields full of solar panels. In fact, solar is one of the cleanest and most abundant energy resources on the planet, and if we took just a small corner of Utah and Nevada and filled it with solar panels we could produce enough energy to meet all of America’s power needs!
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Solar radiation, often called the solar resource, is a general term for the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the sun. Solar radiation can be captured and turned into useful forms of energy, such as heat and electricity.
Every location on Earth receives sunlight at least part of the year, and the amount of power generated at a particular site depends on how much of the sun’s energy reaches it.
Solar technologies function most efficiently in the southwestern United States, which receives the greatest amount of solar energy, and this is generally where the largest solar power plants are located.
Related Reading: Mega-What? An Explanation Of Solar Energy Capacity In America
The Biggest Solar Power Plants In America
The 579 MW Solar Star power plant (formerly Antelope Valley Solar Projects) was completed in 2015 and currently stands as the world’s largest operating solar farm. Located in Rosamond, California, this solar power plant uses 1.7 million solar panels made by SunPower and spreads over 13 square kilometers (3,200 acres). It will deliver enough clean electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 255,000 homes.
Topaz Solar Farm
The Topaz Solar Farm is a 550 MW photovoltaic solar power plant in San Luis Obispo County, California. Fully operational since November 2014, Topaz Solar uses 9 million solar modules from manufacturer First Solar, and will produce sufficient electricity to power 160,000 average California homes.
Desert Sunlight Solar Farm
The Desert Sunlight Solar Farm is a 550 MW solar power plant located in the Sonoran Desert of California. As of Fall 2015, the Desert Sunlight Solar is tied with the Topaz Solar Farm in terms of power capacity, making both of them tied for the second largest solar plants. Desert Sunlight also uses solar panels made by First Solar.
Copper Mountain Solar
The Copper Mountain Solar Facility is a 458 MW solar power plant in Boulder City, Nevada constructed in 2010. The total solar farm is made up of the 58 MW 1st phase called Solar 1, 150 MW 2nd phase called Solar 2, and 250 MW 3rd phase called Solar 3. Copper Mountain Solar 4 is the 94 MW 4th phase of the complex and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016. The addition of Solar 4 would bring the total capacity of Copper Mountain Solar to 552 MW, placing it in second ahead of the Topaz Solar Farm.
The Agua Caliente Solar Project is a 289 MW solar power facility in Yuma County, Arizona. The solar farm generates enough electricity to serve around 225,000 average homes and will reduce 5.5 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The solar power facility uses more than 5 million thin-film cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar modules from First Solar, and will produce approximately 626.2GWh of clean energy each year. Agua Caliente is Spanish for “hot water.”
California Valley Solar Ranch
The California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR) is a 250 MW solar power plant located in the Carrizo Plain, northeast of California Valley. The CVSR project consists of 10 solar PV arrays, or groups of solar PV panels, along with a substation and other facility buildings. The total footprint of the solar arrays and buildings is 1,500 acres, and the electricity generated by CVSR is enough to serve a yearly average of 100,000 homes (double that number at maximum capacity during peak hours of the day when the sun is shining strongest).
Other notable solar power plants currently under development but not yet finalized include the 750 MW McCoy Solar Energy Center, the 1,200 MW (1.2 Gigawatt) Sterling Solar Project, and the 2,700 MW (2.7 GW) Westlands Solar Park. All of these solar power plants will be located in California.
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Join The Solar Power Revolution – Install Your Own Solar Power Plant!
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