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World’s Largest Solar Farm Is Now Operational in California


Image credit: First Solar

The largest solar farm in the world has been established on desert lands in California. Named as Topaz, it went online not long ago after the completion of its final 40-megawatt phase, thus allowing it to be the first 500-plus megawatt solar plant built in operation in the U.S.A.

Situated in San Luis ObispoCounty on the Carrizo Plain of California, and equipped with a huge nine million solar panels the solar plant covers the total area of 9.5 square miles. As its precedent, the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility in California’s Mojave Desert can generate energy by the means of directing sunlight towards a central boiler by application of thousands of mirrors.

Although it is capable of creating a large amount of green energy, the Ivanpah farm has been much criticized due to the fact that wildlife, especially birds, have been scorched by the intense sunlight. However, Topaz farm uses photovoltaic solar panels instead of mirrors.

With total investment of $2.5 billion, Topaz farm was started to be built two years ago and would be completed early next year. First Solar, the sponsor of this project, said that the plant should produce the energy of 550 megawatts, sufficient enough to meet demands of nearly 160,000 average homes. In addition, it would displace 377,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year.

The location of Topaz was carefully selected in consideration of all related factors, such as land use, existing electrical transmission lines, as well as environmental sensitivities. Based on First Solar‘s choice , the farm was chosen to be area of “disturbed farm land”, which was characteristic of limited productivity and pretty long distance from the more sensitive regions in the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

Though Topaz might be the biggest largest solar farm in the world for the time being, the Solar Star plant would possibly take its place next year, because it could produce more than 580 megawattsit with its full capacity. Actually MidAmerican Solar is the owner of both Solar Star and Topaz.

Source: Tech Xploreio9Green Tech Media and Tech Spot