The new holder of the prestigious title “Largest Online Solar Plant in The World” has been announced. Topaz, the giant solar facility, began operation in California, nearly one year ahead of schedule.
Manufactured by First Solar, owned by MidAmerican Energy Holdings, Topaz is made up of 9 million solar panels that cover the impressive 9.5 square miles of land in San Luis Obispo County, California. It generates the staggering 500+ MW, which should supply solar power to more than 160,000 homes. These numbers bypass the 392 MW generated by Ivanpah, powering only 140,000 homes, and make it look extremely modest, and definitely not as impressive as it was when it first went online just a few months ago.
The guys at First Solar and MidAmerican Energy Holdings have taken care of everything. Firstly, they selected a location for their new plant way away from any sensitive and agricultural areas, which could have potentially trigger conflicts with environmentalists. The guys also made sure they do not forget to mention that the solar plant will be displacing 377,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, making sure that the significance of the facility is not overlooked.
There was also a big surprise associated with this opening, and I am not referring to the total cost of $2.5 billion invested in the project. It is the fact that the plant went online a lot earlier than planned. Initially, the project was supposed to take three years to complete, but it in fact took only two. This allowed Topaz to be able to enjoy the title of “The World’s Largest Solar Plant” for a lot longer than expected, as the competitors are eagerly trying to take it from them.
The strongest upcoming contender is the Solar Star Project expected to go online yearly next year again in California. This one is expected to produce the massive 579MW and power 255,000 homes at its full capacity.
Image (c) First Solar