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Solar Power Plants in USA (Photovoltaic,Thermal) – Growing by the Day

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Solar Power Plants in the USA are proliferating with the falling cost of solar energy and the increase in government support through the Treasury Grant subsidy.Thousands of Solar Jobs are being created in the USA as solar installers increase their workforce to cope with the rapid surge in demand.The crash in prices of solar panels has led to increase in demand for solar system installations.Also the state Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) laws which make it mandatory for utilities to source a portion of their power from green energy sources has boosted the use of solar energy.Besides rooftop solar systems,large solar power plants are being built in the USA comprising of millions of solar panels with the help of DOE loan guarantees and 1603 Grants.Not only solar photovoltaic systems,but also solar thermal power plants which use solar heat to generate power are being built.Though some of the solar thermal power plants are now being converted to solar panel power farms due to their lower costs,still some solar thermal companies like Brightsource Energy continue to build massive solar farms.The list of solar power plants in the US is a constantly moving target but here is a list of the major solar power plants in the USA as well as some of the upcoming large solar power plants.Note this list is subjective as you can’t have a strict rule of solar system size to classify it a solar power plant.Also the huge number of solar installations makes it almost impossible to construct an exhaustive list of solar power plants.Here I am writing about the big solar power developers and their plans on developing large solar power plants.There are a number of smaller solar developers which I have not written about here.

Read about the advantages and disadvantages of large solar farms over rooftop solar installations

First Solar has more than 1 GW of Solar Farms getting DOE Loan Guarantees

While Solar Panel stocks have been getting massively hit ,First Solar has not seen some of the massive drops mainly as 3 of its large solar farms may get big DOE Loan Guarantees which will allow it to easily sail through one of the worst times in the solar panel industry.Note First Solar has 3 projects getting the DOE Loan – $680 million for the Antelope Valley Solar Ranch in Los Angeles County, $1.88 billion for the Desert Sunlight project in Riverside County and $1.93 billion in loans for the Topaz Solar project in San Luis Obispo County.

These Three solar farms will generate around 1330 MW of solar energy when completed and will make First Solar the biggest solar installer in the US.Two of  these solar panel projects have 550 MW of solar capacity making them the biggest solar panel plants in the world.

NRG Energy and Prologis with DOE Loan Guarantee and Bank of America $1.4 Billion Debt Finance

NRG Energy has been one of the largest developers of  solar energy in the USA with a number of large scale utility projects using both solar PV and solar thermal technologies.NRG Solar which is a wholly owned subsidiary of NRG Energy has almost 2000 MW of solar energy capacity being developed with almost half being constructed.NRG has aggressively bought solar panel projects from First Solar  and has also tied up withBrightsource Energy acquiring an equity interest in the 392 MW solar thermal power plant being built by the company.NRG Energy has now turned its attention to the commercial rooftop market tying up with warehouse operator Prologis and Bank of America to build 733 MW of projects spread across 28 states in the USA.The company has also got a loan guarantee of $1.2 billion from DOE which will further improve the returns from these projects.This is the largest distributed solar project in the world right now and shows a template for further such solar projects in the future by leading energy providers and large rooftop owners.

National Solar to build Twenty 20 MW farms in a single place

National Solar a developer of solar farms is shortlisting sites to build a huge 400 MW solar farm in twenty segments of 20 MW each.Note US  Solar Installers/developers are increasing as solar energy industry keeps on growing at almost a 100% growth rate.While a number of established solar developers have been acquired by upstream large solar panel companies,newer ones keep popping up.Note the cost of the project is around $3.5/watt which is the same as that being estimated by NRG Energy.The Solar System costs have declined dramatically in the last 2-3 years by around 35-40% from around $5.5-6/watt to $3.5/watt at present.With solar panel prices expected to keep declining at around 10% annually expect more such solar panel projects to be announced.

Sunpower has touted its “Oasis” power 1 MW block as a low cost LCOE solution to the solar utility market.This power block which comes with most of the BOS parts assembled saves costs in installation through standardization and scale.The company won a massive  711 AC MW contract with USA utility Edison which is one of the largest in the solar energy history.Sunpower has also  managed numerous wins in the government sector supplying solar panels to the US  Air Force,Municipal Departments

Brightsource Energy,the Solar Thermal Startup has been making huge progress getting high profile investors and managing a $1.37 billion DOE grant for its Ivanpah 392 MW Solar Thermal Power Plant.The Company has managed to get its billion dollar Ivanpah Project financed through equity investments from NRG Energy and Google.The company has also started the process of applying to build a 750 MW plant in California.

Abengoa – Abengoa is one of the most well known suppliers of Solar Thermal Equipment in the world and is a proven developer of large scale Solar Plants in Spain and USA.This Spanish giant has signed a JV with India’s largest capital equipment company BHEL to manufacture components for Solar Thermal Plants..t has managed to win a large DOE grant for constructing another large Solar Thermal Plant in the USA.

 SolarReserve is a US company which uses  integrated molten salt thermal energy storage technology in conjunction with solar power towers licensed from United Technologies Corporation (UTC).The company has got approvals to build CSP plants in Arizona and California.

 Solar Millennium – The company is one of the most aggressive players in the Solar Thermal Energy Sector.The company is in the process of building CSP plants in Africa,Europe,India and USA.This German company has won several project approvals to build CSP plants in Califronia through its JV Solar Trust with Ferrostaal Inc.It recently sold its US pipeline to Solarhybrid which is not converting all the CSP plants to solar panel farms.

You can read about solar power plants upcoming and built at Wikipedia


Abhishek Shah

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