California Valley Solar Ranch

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California Valley Solar Ranch
Solar Panels at California Valley Solar Ranch 1 (8159038006).jpg
California Valley Solar Ranch solar panels
CountryUnited States
LocationCarrizo Plain, northeast of California Valley, CA
Coordinates35°19′48″N 119°54′36″W / 35.33000°N 119.91000°W / 35.33000; -119.91000Coordinates: 35°19′48″N 119°54′36″W / 35.33000°N 119.91000°W / 35.33000; -119.91000
Construction began2011
Commission dateOctober 2013
Owner(s)NRG Solar
Solar farm
TypeFlat-panel PV
Site area1,966 acres (7.96 km2)
Power generation
Nameplate capacity250 MWAC
Capacity factor30.8% (average 2014-2017)
Annual net output675 GW·h, 340 MW·h/acre
External links
CommonsRelated media on Commons

The California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR) is a 250 megawatt (MWAC) photovoltaic power plant in the Carrizo Plain, northeast of California Valley. The project is owned by NRG Energy, and SunPower is the EPC contractor and technology provider. The project constructed on 1,966 acres (796 ha) of a 4,365-acre (1,766 ha) site of former grazing land.[1] It is utilizing high-efficiency, crystalline PV panels designed and manufactured by SunPower. The project includes up to 88,000 SunPower solar tracking devices to hold PV panels that track the sun across the sky.

Project overview[edit]

The project began construction in 2011, and began operation in 2012 with 22 MW completed. It was fully completed in October 2013.[2] At the time it was completed, "the California Valley Solar Ranch will power about 100,000 homes and will be one of the largest photovoltaic (PV) solar power plants in the world".[3]

The project is being constructed on 1,966 acres (796 ha) of a 4,365-acre (1,766 ha) site of former grazing land.[1] It is utilizing high-efficiency, crystalline PV panels designed and manufactured by SunPower. The project includes up to 88,000 SunPower solar tracking devices to hold PV panels that track the sun across the sky. The project delivers approximately 550 gigawatt-hours (GW·h) annually of renewable energy and has a capacity of 250 MW.[4] While the plant only has a capacity factor of 25%, its power is generated during the middle of the day, when demand for electricity — and price — is much higher than at night.

Power Purchase Agreement[edit]

On August 14, 2008, Pacific Gas and Electric announced an agreement to buy all the power from the power plant.[5] A Conditional Use Permit application for the project was filed with the County of San Luis Obispo Planning and Building Department on January 14, 2009. On November 30, 2010, NRG Energy announced that it would buy CVSR from SunPower for "up to $450 million".[6] In September 2011, the Department of Energy (DOE) offered NRG Solar a $1.237 billion loan from the federal government to cover most of the construction cost.[7] The total cost of the project is estimated to be $1.6 billion.[8]

Panoramic view of construction, October 2012


The Carrizo Plain is home to 13 species listed as endangered either by the state or federal government, including the San Joaquin kit fox, giant kangaroo rat, and the California condor.[9] SunPower worked with the community to protect local wildlife habitat and migration patterns, and reduced the amount of traffic in the area during construction.[10] In 2012, it was reported that SunPower and First Solar had designed a plan to create a 19,000 acre reserve for the giant kangaroo rat, San Joaquin kit fox and golden eagle in order to address concerns about habitat destruction.[11]

Electricity production[edit]

Generation (MW·h) of California Valley Solar Ranch [12]
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
2012 4,014 4,190 5,504 8,019 21,727
2013 15,824 20,631 24,304 28,133 10,533 25,459 31,131 51,646 63,073 56,747 37,300 34,583 399,364
2014 35,851 36,710 54,654 66,210 78,967 84,024 77,526 74,398 60,789 50,939 36,701 27,634 684,403
2015 36,087 43,208 60,175 67,920 70,492 77,665 75,705 75,695 60,536 48,796 40,421 31,553 688,253
2016 27,064 48,485 58,571 63,317 71,275 80,545 82,609 74,310 63,259 44,720 37,633 28,008 679,796
2017 25,685 28,689 53,629 57,222 72,972 79,042 71,978 66,590 62,052 57,168 35,337 37,178 647,541
Average Annual Production (2014-2017 675,000


A fire removed 84% of the generating capacity from service in 2019 when poles and cables were damaged by an "avian incident."[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sneed, David (2008-08-15). "Calif. utility agrees to buy solar power from two proposed plants". The San Luis Obispo Tribune. Archived from the original on 2008-08-15. Retrieved 2008-08-15.
  2. ^ "NRG Energy, NRG Yield and SunPower Begin Commercial Operations at 250 MW California Valley Solar Ranch". BusinessWire. October 31, 2013. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  3. ^ "NRG Energy Completes Acquisition of 250-Megawatt California Valley Solar Ranch from SunPower". MarketWatch. 30 September 2011.
  4. ^ "California Utility Mainstreams Solar Photovoltaic Power". Environment News Service (ENS). August 15, 2008. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
  5. ^ "PG&E Signs Historic 800 MW Photovoltaic Solar Power Agreements With Optisolar and Sunpower". Pacific Gas and Electric. 2008-08-14. Archived from the original on 2008-10-04. Retrieved 2008-08-15.
  6. ^ Baker, David R. (2010-12-01). "NRG Energy to invest $450 million in SunPower". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
  7. ^ "Energy Department Finalizes $1.2 Billion Loan Guarantee to Support California Solar Generation" (Press release). Department of Energy (DOE). September 30, 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  8. ^ Lipton, Eric; Clifford Krauss (November 11, 2011). "A Gold Rush of Subsidies in Clean Energy Search". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  9. ^ Wesoff, Eric (August 25, 2010). "Huge Milestone for SunPower and Solar in 250MW California Valley Project". Greentech Media. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
  10. ^ SunPower Adds 40-MW to California Valley Solar Ranch Renewable Energy World, 3 May 2010.
  11. ^ "Pacific Southwest Region: California Solar Projects Will Provide Clean Energy and Restore Habitats for Wildlife". United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 2019-08-02.
  12. ^ "California Valley Solar Ranch, Monthly". Electricity Data Browser. Energy Information Administration. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  13. ^ Dent, Millicent (June 19, 2019). "'Avian Incident' Knocks Out 84% of Massive California Solar Farm". Bloomberg. Retrieved June 20, 2019.

External links[edit]