Topaz Solar Farm
|Topaz Solar Farm|
Topaz Solar Farm solar panels
|Location||Carrizo Plain, San Luis Obispo County, California|
|Construction cost||$2.4 billion|
|Owner(s)||Berkshire Hathaway Energy|
|Site area||9.5 sq mi (25 km2)|
|Nameplate capacity||550 MWAC|
|Capacity factor||24.4% (2014-2015)|
|Annual gross output||1,301 GWh
(125 MW avg. power)
Topaz Solar Farm is a 550-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic power station in San Luis Obispo County, California. Construction on the project began in November 2011 and ended in November 2014. It is one of the world's largest solar farms. The $2.5 billion project includes 9 million CdTe photovoltaic modules based on thin-film technology, manufactured by U.S. company First Solar. The company also built, operates and maintains the project for MidAmerican Renewables, a Berkshire Hathaway company. Pacific Gas and Electric will buy the electricity under a 25-year power purchase agreement. According to First Solar, it created about 400 construction jobs. Annual generation is expected to be 1,100 GWh, the capacity factor is 23%.
OptiSolar, the instigator of the project, had optioned 9.5 square miles (25 km2) of ranchland, In November 2009, First Solar announced that it had purchased options to an additional 640 acres (260 ha) from Ausra's canceled Carrizo Energy Solar Farm. First Solar would reconfigure the project to minimize the use of land covered by the Williamson Act.
The project uses nine million thin-film cadmium telluride PV panels designed and manufactured by First Solar. The plant's power would be generated during the middle of the day, when demand for electricity — and price — is much higher than at night. The project was expected to begin construction in 2011 and be fully operational by 2014. California utilities are mandated to get 33% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.
On August 14, 2008, Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced agreements to buy the power from Topaz Solar Farm and High Plains Ranch. In late October 2010 the San Luis Obispo Department Planning and Building released a Draft Environmental Impact report.
In June 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy offered First Solar a $1.9 billion loan guarantee to cover part of the financing for the project. The First Solar project was not able to close its conditional loan guarantee with the Department of Energy prior to the September 30 deadline, but it has gone ahead anyway.
On May 18, 2012, First Solar announced the installation of the first PV panel. On October 24, 2012, First Solar announced the installation of the millionth panel. The plant began providing energy to the grid in February 2013. The five-millionth panel was installed in October 2013.
|Source: eia.gov – Electricity Data Browser
Note: Interactive chart on EIA-website displays figures with an offset of one month.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Topaz Solar Farm.|
- "Topaz Solar Farm (First Solar/Optisolar) Conditional Use Permit (DRC2008-00009)". Environmental Information and Natural Resources. San Luis Obispo County. Retrieved 23 September 2011.