First Solar has completed construction of the world’s largest solar plant. The 550 MW Topaz Solar Farm is now fully operational.
Nine million thin-film, ground-mount solar PV panels have been installed across 3,500 acres on the northwest corner of the Carrizo Plain in San Louis Obispo County in California. Topaz is situated on largely non-prime agricultural land that has limited productivity. It is more than six miles from the more sensitive habitats in the Carrizo Plain National Monument.
Construction began on the more than $2 billion project in 2011 with an estimated completion date of early 2015. The project achieved full commercial operation late last month with the completion of its final 40-MW (AC) phase.
MidAmerican Renewables acquired the solar farm in November 2012, and First Solar will operate and maintain the project for MidAmerican, according to a 2012 press release announcing the deal. PG&E will purchase electricity from Topaz under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA).
The Topaz Solar Farm will contribute to both San Luis Obispo County and state objectives for clean, renewable energy sources, helping to meet California’s goal for utilities to secure at least 33 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.