Solar power is a clean and renewable energy source that is becoming increasingly popular as the cost of traditional energy sources continues to rise. The largest solar power plant in the United States is currently the Solar Star facility in Rosamond, California. The Solar Star plant consists of over 1.5 million solar panels and covers an area of around 3,200 acres. The plant produces enough electricity to power nearly 160,000 homes and has a capacity of 579 megawatts. Solar Star is just one example of the many large-scale solar facilities that are being built across the country as the demand for renewable energy increases. Solar power is likely to become a big part of the US energy market in the years to come if investments keep coming in.
Why is Solar Star the biggest solar power plant in America?
Star is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy. Solar Star uses 1.7 million solar panels. Solar Star covers an area of 3,200 acres. It produces enough electricity to power 255,000 homes. Moreover, it has a 30-year power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison. These solar farms help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Solar farms can also help to create jobs and improve air quality.
Solar power plants like Solar Star, Topaz, and Desert Sunlight were originally built to meet California’s renewable portfolio standards (RPS). The RPS requires that a certain percentage of the state’s energy come from clean, renewable sources by a specific date. Solar Star, Topaz, and Desert Sunlight were all built to meet this requirement. However, the cost of smaller-scale solar has dropped dramatically since then. Moreover, the advantages of distributed energy generation have become more obvious. As a result, smaller solar farms have sprouted up across the state. Solar Star is still the largest solar power plant in the world, but it may not be for long.
What does the future look like for these solar power plants?
Some other countries are expected to overtake Solar Star in the near future. For example, Mexico’s Villanueva Solar Park is expected to have a capacity of 1,370 MW when it is completed in 2019. India’s Pavagada Solar Park is also expected to have a capacity of 2,000MW when it is finished in 2020. These plants would be significantly larger than Solar Star. The UAE has even announced plans to build the world’s largest solar power plant with a capacity of 5,000 MW by 2030. Solar power plants have many advantages. They are renewable, sustainable, and produce no greenhouse gas emissions. Solar power plants can also be built on brownfield sites or land that has been previously developed. This has made them ideal for areas that are already densely populated. In addition, solar power plants can provide energy storage and load-shifting capabilities.
The Solar Energy Industries Association has created a useful map that shows all of the big solar farms that are now in the works. Scroll around and you’ll discover many smaller installations, as well as several large farms in the 100–200 MW range in California, Texas, and Florida—but none nearly the magnitude of Solar Star. The vast bulk of solar farms falls far short. Solar power is a clean and renewable source of energy. As technology improves, we can expect to see even larger solar farms being constructed in the future.