by Shannon O’Neill
The Desert Sunlight Solar Farm located in Riverside County, opened in February 2015 as one of the biggest solar farms in the world. First Solar, who also contributed more than 8 million solar modules to the project, runs the project. The farm has 4,000 acres of solar panels, providing the capability to produce 550 megawatts of energy. This is enough to provide energy to more than 160,000 homes. Additionally, this energy source will replace the use of 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year, a number equivalent to removing 60,000 cars off of the roads. In addition to the environmental benefits, the project has also created many jobs. This project is aiming to contribute to governor Jerry Brown’s initiative of one-third of California’s energy coming from renewable resources by 2020, and one-half from renewable sources by 2030.
This project opens during a time where the future of solar energy is uncertain due to the fact that federal funding and investors’ interests have decreased in recent years. Specifically, the federal investment tax credit is expected to decrease from 30% to 10% by the end 2016. Additionally, with many states already on track to meet renewable energy goals, investing in solar energy has not been a priority. However, as solar energy is slowly becoming price-competitive due to the decrease in prices of photovoltaic panels along with the opening of this solar farm, there is hope of re-initiating such interests in solar energy.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company and Southern California Edison have already agreed to purchase energy from the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm for the next twenty years. Additionally the Obama Administration is making renewable energy a priority. They have designated 22 million acres in California for the sole use of renewable development in order to generate 20,000 megawatts of power by 2020. This is enough energy to power around 6 million homes.
Huge Solar Farm Opens in California: Enough Energy from 160,000 Homes (http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-solar-farm-20150209-story.html)
Desert Sunlight Solar Farm (http://www.firstsolar.com/en/about-us/projects/desert-sunlight-solar-farm)
550 MW Desert Sunlight Solar Farm in California Now Online (http://cleantechnica.com/2015/02/10/550-mw-desert-sunlight-solar-farm-california-now-online/)