Top 15+ Biggest Solar Farms in the U.S
If you live in the US, you should be aware that the price of solar energy has skyrocketed and that the nation is home to some of the most expensive, well-managed, and effective solar farms in the world.
Together, these solar farms have an additional capacity of more than 92 gigawatts.
If you reside in California, there is a possibility that a solar farm supplies power to your house. Some of the largest solar farms in the nation and the world are literally located in this state.
In fact, California is home to the largest solar farm in the country. Three of the largest solar farms in the US are located in California and together they can power 500,000 homes.
With 3.3 GW installed in 2018, California ranked first for solar installations, and it now gets almost 14% of its electricity from solar.
The US is home to some of the most impressive, productive, and sizeable solar farms in the entire world. The top 10+ solar farms in the nation that are propelling the US solar industry forward are listed in this post by KnowInsiders.com.
Photovoltaic power plants and solar parks are other names for solar farms. These are substantial collections of photovoltaic solar panels, which take in solar energy and transform it into useful electricity.
These solar panels send the electricity to a power grid, as opposed to the more basic solar panels that you might find on a building’s rooftop. It is then distributed to consumers throughout the region for consumption. Solar farms typically have panels that are anchored to the ground. They are not on any building rooftops.
Both utility-scale and neighborhood solar farms exist. Utility-scale solar farms are enormous and frequently have hundreds of thousands of panels that convert and absorb energy. Smaller-scale facilities called community solar farms deliver electricity to more rural areas.
Utility-scale solar farms typically cover much larger areas and are larger still. The largest utility-scale solar farms will be the ones we refer to when talking about the biggest solar farms in the US.
Solar parks, also referred to as solar farms or photovoltaic power plants, are large clusters of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels that capture solar energy and convert it to electricity.
Large power grids collect and distribute this electricity for use by consumers.
In contrast to small-scale solar arrays, which frequently have their PV panels mounted on roofs, solar parks typically have their PV panels mounted to the ground.
In Boulder City, Nevada, there is a Flat-panel PV 802 MW solar photovoltaic power plant called the Copper Mountain Solar Facility.
Sempra Generation designed and owns the facility. In January 2010, the plant’s construction got under way. The site is 4,000 acres in size. It has a capacity factor of 27.9% on average and 9 million First Solar panels.
It produces a net amount of 1,348 GWh annually, or 337 MWh per acre. It shares space with the 300 MW Techren Solar, 150 MW Boulder Solar, and 64 MW Nevada Solar One. They can generate more than 1 GW of solar energy when combined. Hoover Dam’s generating capacity is roughly 2 GW in comparison.
Located west of Calexico, California, Mount Signal Solar is a 794 MW photovoltaic power plant with flat-panel technology also known as the “Imperial Valley Solar Project.”
8minutenergy Renewables is designing and building the facility in three stages. With a capacity of 800 MW, it is anticipated to be the largest PV solar farm in the world when fully constructed. Several environmental organizations are also in favor of the project because the power plant was constructed on underproductive farmland.
When it first opened in 2015, this solar farm was the largest not only in the nation but also in the entire world.
In Kern and Los Angeles counties, this Californian plant has about 1.7 million solar panels. It covers an area of 13 square kilometers, or roughly 142 football fields.
This project is divided into two sections, each with a capacity of 314 MW and 265 MW, for a combined total of 579 MW. This farm generates enough energy in total to run 255,000 homes. By following the path of the sun with a single-axis tracker, the panels on this farm are able to produce 25% more energy.
Beginning in November 2011, construction on the Topaz Solar Farm project was completed in all respects in February 2015.
The Topaz solar farm has a 580 MW capacity, and at full production, it can supply nearly 180,000 households with electricity.
According to a BHE study, Topaz Farm’s production capacity is sufficient to offset about 407,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is the same as removing 77,000 cars from the road.
The Topaz solar farm’s solar modules are mounted collectively on panels that are held up by steel columns. The framework raises the modules by about 5 feet (1.5 meters).
Panels are arranged in rows that resemble large geometric shapes and are partially defined by access roads and stream beds.
The solar farm’s northernmost section, which is close to a transmission line, was the first to be constructed.
The estimated $417 million in positive economic effects from this farm include property and sales tax receipts for the County, wages from direct and indirect employment, induced spending, and supply chain revenues.
The five square mile Ivanpah Solar concentrated solar thermal plant is located in the Mojave Desert. It is situated in California at the foot of Clark Mountain.
Bechtel and BrightSource Energy developed the $2.2 billion facilities. With a $300 million investment, NRG Energy was the project’s biggest backer.
The solar farm can produce 392 MW in total. It has set up three centralized solar power towers and 173,500 heliostats, each with two mirrors that concentrate solar energy on boilers.
In order to conduct a preliminary synchronization test, the solar plant’s first unit was connected to the electrical grid in September 2013.
On February 13, 2014, the building received its official opening, making it the largest solar thermal power station in the world.
However, this project has also drawn criticism for disturbing the habitats of animals and even “frying” birds that fly too close to the hot towers.
At the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, more than 300,000 mirrors have been installed to capture sunlight for nearly 330 to 350 days annually.
Turbines are spun by the steam produced by heated water towers, and the output is enough to power 140,000 Californian homes with electricity.
This solar farm, which is situated in Yuma County, Arizona, is situated on land that was formerly used for farming on the White Wing.
As there is an abundance of sunshine available, this location is ideal for a solar farm. It is capable of producing 290 MW.
At peak loads, the 2,400-acre facility can generate enough electricity for 230,000 homes.
The Agua Caliente farm was the biggest solar farm in the world when it went online. Additionally, in February 2012, the project received the Excellence in Renewable Energy Award’s “Project of the Year” designation.
Additionally, the farm will lessen annual carbon dioxide emissions by 5.5 million metric tonnes.
In Nevada’s Nye County is where you can find this solar farm.
The US Bureau of Land Management is in charge of the 1,600 acres of public land on which the farm is located. It was created with a 30-year operational life in mind.
The first utility-scale solar power plant in the US with a 110MW capacity that is fully integrated with energy storage technology is this solar farm. Additionally, it is the biggest solar power facility with storage in the entire world. The undertaking cost $1 billion.
Construction on the Crescent Dunes Solar Project began in August 2011 with a moderate pace.
When the deployment of the central receiver solar power tower was finished in February 2012, the project eventually reached a significant construction milestone. The 540-foot tower is the world’s tallest solar power tower.
Following the completion of the construction phase in 2015, the project’s commissioning phase started in February 2014.
The plant has the capacity to produce nearly 500,000 megawatt hours of emission-free electricity annually, enough to power about 75,000 homes.
The solar energy produced will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 290,000 metric tonnes annually.
SolarReserve, the Spanish engineering and construction firm ACS Cobra, and the Spanish banking organization Santander are among the investors in this project.
The 550 megawatt Desert Sunlight Solar Farm is a photovoltaic power plant. It is located in the Mojave Desert about six miles north of Desert Center, California.
About 8.9 million First Solar cadmium telluride modules are used in the project. The project was completed in two phases, with Phase I having a 300 MW capacity and Phase II having a 250 MW capacity. In 2022, a 230 MW battery storage power plant was added.
In January 2010, work on this solar project got under way. The plant went live in December 2010 and took less than a year to complete. The project’s construction cost $141 million.
After the first 8MW block of solar panels were installed in the solar farm in 2010, the facility began generating solar electricity. The installation of 775,000 solar panels marked an important milestone for the project.
The Nevada governor, the mayor of Boulder City, and the president and CEO of Sempra Generation officially dedicated the solar farm in March 2011.
Nearly 14,000 households are supplied with emission-free electricity by Copper Mountain Solar Facility. Sempra Generation, a San Diego-based subsidiary of Sampa Energy, is the company that owns and operates it.
Over the course of the project’s life, the local, state, and federal governments will each receive $135 million in new revenue.
Five full-time jobs and nearly 350 construction jobs were also created during the project.
Renewable Energy World recognized the solar farm as the “Solar Project of the Year” in March 2011.
After the project’s construction started in September 2011, full commercial operations began in October 2013. The project is expected to cost close to $1.6 billion overall.
In the Carrizo Plain, the solar farm spans about 4,700 acres of grazing land. 30% of the project site is made up of solar arrays, facility buildings, and a substation. The remaining land is protected and used to help the local species survive.
A defunct gypsum mine was cleaned up and made operational on the farm’s site as well.
Due to its flat topography, plentiful solar resources, and closeness to current transmission lines, this particular location was chosen.
The project’s electricity output is sufficient to meet the annual electricity needs of almost 100,000 homes.
The CVSR facility has a water recycling plant and uses very little water for routine cleaning. Nearly 336,000 tonnes less dangerous greenhouse gas emissions will be produced annually as a result.
Additionally, the economic development of the area is expected to benefit from this solar ranch to the tune of $315 million. During the construction phase, more than 700 jobs were generated.
On February 20, 2013, the solar ranch’s construction was finished, and the first 100 MW of capacity went online. The project required a total investment of about $1.36 billion.
Nearly 3.8 million solar panels are located at the Antelope Solar Ranch. To withstand the high wind speed, the panels are fastened to metal racks and don’t rise higher than eight feet off the ground.
Nearly 75,000 homes could receive electricity from the plant.
The project generated 400 construction jobs and 15 jobs in operations and maintenance during the planning stage.
The project will help California achieve its goal of producing at least 33% of its electricity from renewable sources, which will result in a reduction of 140,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
There were three phases to the project’s construction, and two of them were finished in 2018. The farm has a 594 MW total capacity.
More than 3 million solar modules, which rotate on a north-south axis and follow the path of the Sun, are spread out over 801 hectares of nearly unused farmland in the solar farm.
The use of a technology called “DuraTrack HZ” has been made during the project’s construction. It is a sturdy tracker that is intended to provide stability and support for applications involving frameless thin-film modules.
The DuraTrack HZ technology speeds up installation while reducing wasteful labor and material use.
This solar farm will be one of the biggest single-axis tracker solar power facilities in the world once it is fully operational.
The farm produces enough electricity to supply 72,000 homes in the San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) service area.
The project will also reduce carbon emissions by almost 356,000 tonnes annually, which is the equivalent of displacing nearly 15 million trees annually.
Over 700 direct jobs were generated by the project during the height of construction.
The largest operational solar project in Texas is called the Roadrunner Solar Plus Storage Project, and it is situated in Upton County. With a total project area of about 2,770 acres, construction started in February 2019. It is anticipated that this project will produce 1.2 TWh annually while preventing the emission of more than 800,000 tons of CO2. The project has a 57 MW battery storage capacity.
The 460 MWAC installed capacity Permian Energy Center, a utility-scale solar plus battery storage project owned by rsted, is situated in Andrews County, Texas. It is planned to meet the rising demand for electricity in West Texas and is situated on a 3,600 acre site next to existing oil and gas installations. With its 1.3 million solar panels, the project should be able to supply more than 80,000 American homes with clean energy.
A 443 MW photovoltaic power plant called the Springbok Solar Farm is located in Kern County, California, in the northwest Mojave Desert. 8minuteenergy Renewables designed and built the facility in three stages. More than 152,000 households could have been served by the renewable energy produced by this project.
In Arlington, Maricopa County, Arizona, there is a 400 MW photovoltaic power plant called the Mesquite Solar Project. The owner of it is Sempra Generation. More than 2.1 million Suntech Power crystalline silicon solar panels were used in its three phases of construction.
Near Boulder City, Nevada, there is a 400 MW solar photovoltaic power plant called the Techren Solar Project. The project is situated in Eldorado Valley alongside a number of other sizable solar power projects. The SECP founded and developed the project initially, and 174 Power Global, the Hanwha Group subsidiary in the United States, continued to develop it. There were two phases to the project, and both units produced a maximum system voltage standard of 1.5kVdc.
Solar farms have many benefits; they include:
They produce clean, renewable, and reliable energy
Solar farms have minimal emissions
They are possible to construct all over the world
Solar farms give power to areas where other energy sources are not possible
Utility-scale solar farms might have an impact on the local wildlife and vegetation. The biggest solar farm in the US is not without its own set of issues.
The following are some of the reasons why solar farms are undesirable:
These power stations are built over sizable land areas, which may have an impact on the surrounding landscape. Other land uses, such as military operations, grazing, mining, managing wild horses and burros, etc., could be hampered by this.
The farms may have an impact on nearby areas as well, including natural habitats.
Grading and clearing are part of the utility-scale solar farms’ construction process, which has an impact on the air, soil, and water resources. Soil compaction, increased runoff, and changes to drainage systems could result from this.
Water is used extensively during cooling in solar farms that generate electricity using traditional steam plants. The available water resources will be strained if these farms are located in arid regions.
Not to mention, the construction of the farm may lead to particulate matter air pollution.
Native plants and animals are destroyed when large areas of land are taken over for solar farms. This can result in habitat loss, problems with drainage and rainfall, injury or death from direct contact, and more.
These vast landmasses have solar panels installed far into the distance. Thousands of thousands of PV panels are used to collect solar energy, produce electricity, and distribute it via high-voltage power lines.
These power lines carry the current to the grid, where it is eventually sent to people’s homes.
Power purchase agreements are used by the majority of these facilities. In this scenario, each business purchases a certain amount of electricity from the generator or the utility.
Other methods, such as tax equity investments, are also used to power these solar power facilities.
These are small-scale facilities that produce about 5MW of electricity, which is used by nearby homes and businesses. Participants in the program split the power produced by these solar farms.
Depending on the amount of production and the number of residents, residents who invest in the project receive reduced electricity bills.
These neighborhood community solar farms function by positioning the PV solar panels in an open space with plenty of sunlight. The local electricity grid is then supplied with power from the solar farm.
Those who sign up for the program will pay less for electricity based on how much is generated compared to the size of their home.
These farms can operate thanks to a system called “virtual net metering,” in which the local retail energy provider credits each household’s bill with the amount of electricity the community solar farm produces. Depending on the energy demands of each household, this is done.
In that community solar is a type of distributed generation resource (DER), or distributed energy, it differs from solar utility farms. Local households are supplied with electricity by community solar farms.
As a result, there is very little chance that you will lose power if the grid fails.
Utility solar farms are a completely different matter. These farms frequently have one and only one purpose: to supply the entire area with energy.
The community’s energy supply will be hampered by even a minuscule difference.
A solar farm takes a lot of work to build. You can build one for between $0.89 and $1.01 per watt on average.
In that case, the average cost to build a 1 MW solar farm will be between $890,000 and $1.01 million. You should be aware that installing solar systems costs $3.06 per watt despite these high costs.
As a result, they are generally more expensive than solar farms. Therefore, installing a solar farm is less expensive than having many residential homes each have their own solar array.
When making an investment in a solar farm, you should take the following factors into account:
Depending on the amount of energy needed, solar farms require a lot of space. For a 1MW solar farm, for instance, you’ll need about 6-8 acres.
The land accounts for other required infrastructure as well as the distance between panel rows. There are numerous factors to take into account, including space for auxiliary equipment, such as inverters, access space for maintenance and repairs, etc.
The number of workers employed on the project, its size, and other variables all affect how long it will take to complete the solar farm. Even so, the duration of this construction process can be as short as a few months. Obtaining the necessary planning approvals to construct a sizable solar array on agricultural land takes time.
These approvals and contracts are drawn-out and may take three to five years to complete.
The assembly time may also be impacted by the weather or other unforeseen events. Your solar farm will require little maintenance after all the systems are installed and working, with repairs only occurring three to four times per year.
When selling electricity, a 1 MW solar farm can generate about $40,000 in annual revenue. Naturally, this assumes that your farm will produce an average of 1,460 MWh of power annually.
Utility-scale solar farms sell the electricity they produce for Purchase-Power Agreements on wholesale electricity markets.
Large-scale solar energy production is possible with solar farms. These initiatives are the best for both lowering greenhouse gas emissions and generating a sizable number of jobs.
Solar farms, on the other hand, require a lot of space and are expensive to build. Additionally, solar farm maintenance is another hassle. Due to poor infrastructure, 30% on average of the solar output in China is lost.
Creating super grids that can distribute energy from solar farms to larger metro areas is one of the suggested solutions to the problem.
Despite some of the aforementioned problems, there will be more solar farms built worldwide, which is a good sign.
These farms will increase the “green zones” in various parts of the world from an environmental standpoint in addition to producing a significant amount of solar energy by lowering carbon emissions on an otherwise polluted planet.