Largest Solar Plant in the World Nears Peak Capacity

First Solar, Inc. announced their Agua Caliente solar power plant, the largest in the world, has reached its near peak generating capacity, delivering 250 megawatts to the electrical grid.

The ongoing project, located in Yuma County, AZ, first started commercial operation in January of this year with only 30 megawatts of power. But now, it is almost at its maximum generation capacity of 290 megawatts, and is right on track to reach its target once the construction is done in 2014.

Once completed, Agua Caliente will be generating enough power for around 100,000 homes and displace 5.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide for over 25 years, which is equal to taking 40,000 cars off the road yearly, and will employ 400 to 450 workers during the construction period.

Construction is almost complete at First Solar's Agua Caliente project. Photo Credit: First Solar

Despite being close to completion, the record-setting project has also exceeded its targets for the speed, quality and safety of the construction process, so First Solar has decided to allocate its manufactured panels to other sites.

“The Agua Caliente project exemplifies how utility-grade solar PV power can be rapidly deployed in a phased approach and seamlessly integrated into the electrical grid,” said Jim Tyler, Vice President of Development Engineering in First Solar’s Engineering, Procurement and Construction Group.

“We are extremely proud to set a new benchmark for the industry with Agua Caliente, which incorporates the knowledge gained over years of experience designing, building and operating utility-scale solar projects for leading utilities and energy providers,” he added.

NRG ENERGY, INC. and MidAmerican Solar own the project, which is being designed and constructed by First Solar, Inc. using advanced thin-film photovoltaic modules. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is buying power generated by the plant on a 25-year power purchase agreement, subject to the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission.

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