Desert Sunlight Solar Farm

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Desert Sunlight Solar Farm
02-09-15 First Solar Desert Sunlight Solar Farm (15863210084).jpg
Solar arrays at Desert Sunlight
Desert Sunlight Solar Farm is located in California
Desert Sunlight Solar Farm
Location of Desert Sunlight Solar Farm in California
Country United States
Location Riverside County, California
Coordinates 33°49′17″N 115°23′38″W / 33.82139°N 115.39389°W / 33.82139; -115.39389Coordinates: 33°49′17″N 115°23′38″W / 33.82139°N 115.39389°W / 33.82139; -115.39389
Status Operational
Construction began 2011
Commission date 2015
Owner(s) NextEra Energy Resources, GE Energy Financial Services, Sumitomo Group
Solar field
Type Flat-panel PV
Site area 16 square kilometres (6.2 sq mi)
Power generation
Nameplate capacity 550 MWp

The Desert Sunlight Solar Farm is a 550 megawatt (MWAC) photovoltaic power station approximately six miles north of Desert Center, California, in the Mojave Desert. It uses approximately 8.8 million cadmium telluride modules made by the US thin-film manufacturer First Solar. As of Fall 2015, the Solar Farm has the same 550 MW installed capacity as the Topaz Solar Farm in the Carrizo Plain region of Central California, making both of them tied for the second largest completed solar plants by installed capacity.[1][2]

Project details[edit]

Project construction took place in two phases, both of which are supported by power purchase agreements.

Phase I has a capacity of 300 MW, which will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric Company. Phase II has a capacity of 250 MW, which will be sold to Southern California Edison. The project was expected to involve more than 550 construction jobs in Riverside County, California.[3] The project was built on over 6 square miles (16 km2) of creosote bush-dominated desert habitat near Desert Center next to Joshua Tree National Park.[4] Construction began in September, 2011 and final completion was in January 2015.[2]

The $1.46 billion in loans for the project are partially guaranteed by DOE and will be funded by a group of investors led by Goldman Sachs Lending Partners, which submitted the project under the Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP), and Citigroup Global Markets Inc. as co-lead arranger.[3]


Monthly Electricity Generation in MW·h
Year and Phase Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2013 Phase I 10,015 32,709 33,043 75,767
2013 Phase II 12,877 15,657 28,534
2014 Phase I 32,312 34,615 44,998 45,876 43,733 47,205 45,698 44,642 66,531 51,571 52,960 37,274 547,415
2014 Phase II 21,773 27,207 34,901 41,461 39,400 43,829 51,572 39,497 46,360 48,984 46,793 34,333 476,110
2015 Phase I 45,802 52,966 60,724 64,541 61,367 63,147 63,620 63,517 44,398 53,467 51,543 47,712 672,804
2015 Phase II 40,399 47,894 56,371 59,569 60,775 57,715 58,348 58,787 39,097 47,562 45,791 41,633 613,941
2016 Phase I 44,903 58,492 61,875 60,223 74,220 70,241 '
2016 Phase II 39,151 50,933 55,135 54,198 63,118 59,008 '
Source: – Electricity Data Browser[5][6]

Environmental issues[edit]

Clean energy advocate John Podesta, in a speech on large-scale solar facilities and desert solar noted, "So even as we look to expand clean energy production on public lands and in public waters, we must keep the day-to-day work of environmental protection in mind. Renewable energy projects can still disrupt the natural environment if put in the wrong places and if proper precautions are not taken—an outcome fundamentally at odds with the reasons we’re developing clean energy in the first place."[7]

In 2012 the National Parks Conservation Association issued a report identifying three desert solar power plants sited within five miles of National Parks in the California Desert as projects that they suggest should not have been approved in their locations, including the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm.[8] The group cites damage to visual resources, and impacts on desert species.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Goldenstein, Taylor ( 9 February 1015) "Huge solar farm opens in California: Enough energy for 160,000 homes" Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ a b Desert Sunlight Solar Farm
  3. ^ a b "DOE Closes on Four Major Solar Projects". Renewable Energy World. 30 September 2011. 
  4. ^ "Desert Sunlight Solar Farm Project". Bureau of Land Management. Retrieved 4 December 2011. 
  5. ^ Electricity Data Browser: Desert Sunlight 300, LLC
  6. ^ Electricity Data Browser: Desert Sunlight 250, LLC
  7. ^ John Podesta (February 11, 2011). "Clean energy development done right". Department of Interior Workshop. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  8. ^ Danelski, David (April 16, 2015). "SOLAR POWER: Inland plants boost state to No. 1". The Press-Enterprise. Riverside, California. 
  9. ^ "Group Calls For Strict Limits on Solar Power Near National Parks". KCET. Retrieved 30 November 2012.