Solar power has become one of the most rapidly expanding industries in the U.S. in the past decade. Tax incentives and things like solar lease options have made installing solar panels for your home more appealing and affordable, and the increase in private investments into solar energy has driven the price of solar technologies down. According to Forbes, the solar energy capacity added in 2012 surpassed the capacity added in the previous three years put together. In 2013, several massive solar energy projects are under construction in the U.S., and they promise to add even more solar power to the grid than before. Here are the top 5 largest solar projects under construction in the U.S. right now.
1. Agua Caliente Solar Project
With more than 5 million solar panels in Arizona Agua Caliente Solar Project is the largest solar power plant in the world. Located about an hour’s drive east of Yuma, the Agua Caliente Project was designed by First Solar, and it currently employs between 400 and 450 workers daily. When completed, the power plant will have a capacity of 290 MW. It will be able to power 100,000 average homes and will help displace about 220,000 tons of CO2 every year—that’s the same as removing 40,000 cars from the road.
2. AV Solar Ranch One
AV Solar Ranch one is located in California’s Antelope Valley, which is just north of Los Angeles County. Together with Arizona, California is one of the biggest solar energy producers in the country, so it’s no surprise that many of the largest solar energy projects are located in the Golden State. With 3,700,000 solar modules, AV Solar Ranch One has a capacity of 230 MW and will produce enough power to run 75,000 average homes and to displace about 140,000 tons of CO2per year.
3. Desert Sunlight Solar Farm
Desert Sunlight Solar Farm is located in Riverside County, California. Construction for it began in 2011, and the power plant is expected to be finished and fully operational by 2015. When completed, it will have a capacity of 550 MW and will produce enough energy to power about 160,000 average homes. It will help displace about 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide yearly, which equates to removing roughly 60,000 cars from the road.
4. California Valley Solar Ranch
Developed by the solar energy contractor SunPower, this massive solar ranch is also located in Riverside County, California. Construction for it began in 2011, and it started operating in 2012 with a 22 MW capacity. When the project is completed this year, it will have a 250 MW capacity and it will have the ability to power approximately 100,000 average homes. The ranch will use up to 88,000 solar tracking devices developed by SunPower. These devices enable solar panels to track the sun as it moves across the sky.
5. Topaz Solar Farm
Topaz Solar Farm is located in the Carrisa Plains in California. With 9 million solar modules, it is one of the largest solar projects in the world. When completed, it will be even bigger than AV Solar Ranch One. Topaz Solar Farm is expected to have a capacity of 550 MW, and it will generate enough energy to power 160,000 average homes. The plant will help displace 377,000 tons of CO2per year, which is equivalent to removing about 73,000 cars from the road.