Boulder City, Nevada, USA – Today marked the start of operation for Sempra’s Copper Mountain solar facility making it the largest operating photovoltaic plant in North America at 55-MW. This is a major increase over the previous holder of that title which was Florida Power & Light’s 28-MW plant in Arcadia, FL. Construction was completed in just under a year having started in January 2010 with electricity production starting today, December 7th 2010. The construction involved more than 350 works installing nearly 775,000 solar panels produced by First Solar.
Electricity produced at Copper Mountain is being sold to PG&E under a 20 year contract. Solar and other renewable energy usage is expected to rise as new laws in some states require utilities to obtain certain percentages of their energy from alternative sources. California is requiring that 20% of energy come from alternative sources by the start of 2011 with an increase to 33% by 2021.
Although this 380 acre thin film solar cell plant is now the largest in North America it might not have that title for long. Construction of a 250-MW photovoltaic plant in San Luis Obispo County is expected to finish in early 2011 and will be among the largest in the world. The California Valley Solar Ranch is being created in a joint operation between SunPower and NRG Energy and will use ground mounted solar trough technology.
Below is video footage of the newly completed plant.Sponsors: