2012 was a record year for the American solar industry, with installations surging by 76 percent as compared to 2011. Every sector from commercial to industrial experienced growth, but in 2012 utility-scale solar really powered ahead. Unlike other sectors, the electricity generated by utility-scale projects is sold directly to wholesale utility buyers.
In the recently released U.S. Solar Market Insight report, GreenTech Media and SEIA found that the utility-scale sector grew by an unprecedented 134 percent last year — with eight of the largest solar projects in America starting operation.
Many of these projects were supported by investments from the Energy Department’s Loan Guarantee Program. There are five large utility-scale projects that came online last year as part of the loan program portfolio. The Agua Caliente Phase I-IV in Yuma Country, Arizona is one of the nation’s largest utility scale photovoltaic solar generation facilities. It will provide enough clean, renewable electricity to power about 100,000 homes per year. The Alamosa Solar project in Colorado is breaking records as the largest high-concentration solar facility in the world. Successfully beginning operation last May, Alamosa produces enough clean, renewable energy to power more than 5,100 homes and avoid the emissions of 34,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. The Antelope Valley Solar Ranch facility about 80 miles north of Los Angeles, has completed its first phase. Once fully operational, the Solar Ranch’s annual capacity will more than double to 230 MW — supplying enough energy to the grid to power about 75,000 homes. Mesquite Solar 1 located in Maricopa County, Arizona, taps into 300 days of sunshine each year to generate about 124 MW of clean electricity. The next phase of this project is underway and the team is on track to operate more than 1000 MW of renewable energy capacity by the end of 2013. Finally, the California Valley Solar Ranch in sunny San Luis Obispo is in an ideal location. Once fully complete, the Solar Ranch will reach a total generation capacity of 250 MW — enough energy to power the equivalent of almost every home in San Luis Obispo County. At their current capacities, these utility-scale projects are generating about 631 MWdc of clean electricity!
Source: 5 Super-Sized Solar Projects Transforming the Clean Energy Landscape, April 8, 2013