First Solar has completed a 550 megawatt solar power plant in Riverside County, California. This part of the state is in the southern area inland from Los Angeles. The new solar plant is owned by GE Energy Financial Services, Sumitomo Corporation of America, and NextEra Energy Resources. It utilizes over 8 million solar modules.
Three hundred megawatts of power from the plant will be sold to PG&E, and the remaining 250 will be sold to Southern California Edison.
First Solar is no stranger to huge solar power plants. The photovoltaic energy provider developed and completed the 550 MW Topaz solar project in San Luis Obispo County, California. And it only took about two years to complete it.
In December of 2014, a 250 MW solar power plant became operational in California as well.
So, in the last two months, California has seen at least 1,350 MW of solar power become operational just from new solar farms. This total is in addition to all the rooftop solar that is constantly being installed.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has written that one megawatt of solar power can provide electricity to about 164 homes. So, the recent addition of 1,350 MW in California could power ~221,400 homes.
Did you hear about this big solar power surge on any of the national news networks? Probably not, but there is a very positive solar power trend taking place in many parts of America that is not well represented in the media.
Another benefit of these large solar power plants is the number of jobs they create during the construction phase. For example, the first 550 MW plant First Solar developed, the Topaz facility, created about 400 jobs. Of course, such a large project stimulates the local economy. The second 550 MW plant is the same size so it is reasonable to expect that about the same number of jobs was created for the installation period.
Also, a smaller number of jobs are generated to operate and maintain such a large plant, so the economic stimulus continues, though at a smaller scale.
Finally, these huge solar power projects also contribute to local economies because they pay taxes to local authorities, which goes back into the community.
Image: First Solar