Solar panel installations are getting more popular in the United States. More and more homes and businesses are adding solar power systems to their rooftops and properties across the United States.
If you have done any sort of research regarding the solar power industry you have probably come across solar power farms or plants, and know that they will last 20 to 25 years.
A super interesting fact is that California alone has brought a solar power boom to the United States. The Golden State is ranked first in solar panel installations and receives quite a bit of its electricity from solar panels. The United States has quite a few massive solar panel installations.
Solar Star, Kern, and Los Angeles Counties
Solar Star is the biggest solar power farm in the United States. When the solar panel installation was first set up in June 2015, it was the biggest solar power farm in the world.
Solar Star has 1.7 million solar panels dispersed on more than 13 square kilometers in Kern and Los Angeles Counties, California. Which is almost equivalent to 142 football fields.
The solar power project is divided based on two separate solar panel installations - called Solar Star 1 and Solar Star 2. The first one has a solar power capacity of 314 MW and the second one has 265 MW.
Overall, the solar power project generates 579 MW of solar power, which is going to be enough to provide solar electricity to nearly 255,000 homes.
A few facts about the Solar Star project, collected from the California Energy Commission:
- Solar Star was installed on an altered land. Meaning that the land had already been used or altered by people.
- The solar panels that are part of the solar panel installation on the farm get cleaned automatically by using minimal water.
- The solar panels use a single-axis tracker to follow the sun’s movement throughout the day. This feature is going to increase the solar panels efficiency by nearly 25%.
- The environmental impact of this project is significant. The solar power output of this solar panel installation is equivalent to taking 108,000 cars off the road annually.
This solar panel installation began in 2013 and was completed in 2015. After it was completed, the farm has more than 1.7 million solar panels and produced more than 170 MW of solar power to the California grid.
In June 2019 the solar power systems were officially four years active, and it is still the largest solar power farm on the country in terms of power generated. Other solar panel installations that are close in proximity don’t have the same kind of solar panel efficiency per area, based on their location and technological progress.
Topaz Solar Power Farm, Carrizo Plain of San Luis Obispo County, California
This solar panel installation is located on the Carrizo Plain of San Luis Obispo County, California. The construction of the solar power systems began in November 2011, and in February 2015, the solar panel installation was officially complete.
The solar power farm is spread out over the area of more than 15 square kilometers and provides enough solar electricity for 160,000 homes. The solar power capacity of the Topaz solar panel installation is 580 MW, and when it is operating at its full capacity it produces enough solar electricity to nearly 180,000 homes.
A study that was done by the BHE shows that the production capacity of Topaz farm is enough to displace around 407,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is equivalent to taking 77,000 cars off the road.
The solar panels in the Topaz solar panel installation are going to be mounted together and supported by steel columns. The structure is going to hold the solar panels about 5 feet off the ground.
Rows of solar panels are going to be laid in a way that is going to appear like a large geometric shape and is defined in part through access roads and stream beds.
The economic benefits this farm provides include an estimated $417 million in positive impacts, like property and sales tax revenues for the Country, wages from direct/indirect employment, induced spending and supply chain revenues.
Ivanpah Solar, Clark Mountain in California
The Ivanpah Solar power system is a concentrated solar thermal plant in the Mojave Desert and stretches five miles. It is located at the base of Clark Mountain in California. The $2.2 billion facilities were developed by BrightSource Energy and Bechtel. The largest investor in the project was NRG Energy which contributed $300 million.
The solar power farm has a total capacity of 392 MW of solar power. It has deployed 173,500 heliostats, each with two mirrors focusing solar energy on boilers placed on three centralized solar power towers.
The first unit of the solar power plant was connected to the electrical grid in September 2013 for an initial synchronization test. The facility officially opened February 13, 2014, and in the same year, it became the largest solar thermal power station in the entire world.
Many people, however, have criticized this solar energy project for disrupting animal habitats and actually in a sense “frying” birds that fly a little too close to the solar power towers.
Nearly 300,000-plus solar energy mirrors have been installed at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System capture sunshine almost 330 to 350 days per year.
The steam generated from the solar water towers spins turbines that produce enough solar electricity to 140,000 households in California.
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