The use of solar energy in the US is growing at record levels in 2021. More and more households and businesses are realizing the benefits of solar.
The solar industry installed 5GW of energy capacity in the first three months of the year and accounted for 58% of all new electric capacity additions in the US, data shows.
The data shows US solar capacity could more than double over the next five years to reach 250GW, the majority in utility-scale solar farms.
What is a solar farm? Let’s look at how solar power farms work and where the biggest solar farms in the US are located.
How Does Solar Power Work?
Solar power works by using photovoltaic (PV) panels to convert light from the sun into energy in the form of electricity or heat. Solar farms are large systems that connect many rows of solar panels to generate electricity for businesses or electric utilities.
After the initial investment to install the PV panels, solar energy systems generate electricity or heat at no extra cost. This reduces energy bills for homes and businesses. Some utilities offer special tariffs for customers that only want to use renewable energy. Check out a solar savings estimate to see how much you could save by going solar.
The Biggest Solar Farms in the United States
The US has some of the largest solar farms in the world. Unsurprisingly, most of them are in the state of California. Utilities in California have to get 33% of their energy from renewables.
Here are the top five sites.
1. Copper Mountain, Nevada, 802MW
Owned by Sempra Energy and Consolidated Edison, the Copper Mountain solar farm has five units that it has installed in stages, beginning with a 10MW test facility in December 2008.
The first four units are owned by Sempra. The fifth unit, with a capacity of 250MW, started operation in March 2021 and is owned by Consolidated Edison. The site is in Boulder City, Nevada southeast of Las Vegas.
2. Mount Signal, California, 794MW
AES Solar and 8minuteenergy Renewables installed the Mount Signal project, previously known as Imperial Valley, in three stages from 2012 to 2020. The solar farm is in Calexico, a city in Imperial County, California on the Mexican border.
3. Solar Star, California, 794MW
SunPower operates the solar farm near Rosamond, California, which supplies power to Southern California Edison. Construction started in 2013 and was completed in 2015. At the time it was the largest solar farm in the world.
The system has a capacity of 579MW alternating current (AC), or a peak capacity of 794MWp.
4. Topaz, California, 550MW
US solar panel manufacturer First Solar built and maintains the project in San Luis Obispo County, California for MidAmerican Renewables. Construction started in 2011 and finished in November 2014.
5. Desert Sunlight, California, 550MW
The solar farm is north of Desert Center in California in the Mojave Desert. The first phase has a capacity of 300MW, with the energy sold to Pacific Gas & Electric Company. The 250MW second phase supplies Southern California Edison. Construction started in 2011, with completion in 2015.
Consider Solar Energy for Your Home or Business
The US has some of the biggest solar farms in the world and solar generation will continue to grow in the coming years. If you haven’t already made the switch, consider whether solar power is right for you.
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