The Topaz Solar Farm is one of the largest solar PV farms in the world
The Topaz Solar Farm is a 550-megawatt solar photovoltaic project; which is enough to power 160,000 California homes. It is located on the northwestern portion of the Carrizo Plain, San Luis Obispo County, California. Topaz has 9 million solar panels on 9.5 square miles. The location was chosen after a thorough review of the environmental impact of Topaz, potential sites in California for the solar farm, available solar resources in the area, and proximity to existing electrical transmission lines.
n June of 2011, First Solar (the company that ended up developing Topaz) was initially offered a loan worth $1.9 billion from the US Department of Energy to build the Topaz Solar Farm. The company was not able to meet the DOE’s conditional loan guarantee requirements, but it got its funding when MidAmerican Renewables purchased the project from First Solar. MidAmerican is a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which also owns utilities in several states. First Solar has been listed as the developer for the solar farm. Topaz ended up with a final total cost of over $2 billion.
Topaz Solar Farm was one of the largest solar PV farms in the entire world when it was built, and is still one of the largest solar PV farms in the Western Hemisphere. Slightly larger solar PV farms that knocked Topaz a place or two down the list of "largest PV farms in the world" include the 648MW Kamuthi Solar Power Project in India; as well as few, much larger, solar PV parks in China and India.
Topaz now has more than nine million photovoltaic panels; using 2nd generation, thin-film solar cells (advanced thin-film cadmium telluride) PV modules. When operated at maximum capacity for energy production, the Topaz Solar Farm displaces more than 350,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year. The amount is equal to removing over 70,000 cars off the road.
Pacific Gas and Electric buys the electricity from the solar farm under a power purchase agreement. The agreement is set to last for 25 years. Utilities in California have been mandated by law to use only zero-emission energy sources (energy sources in California will be a majority renewable energy sources like solar PV farms) for the state's electricity by the year 2045.
Topaz and land-use
Topaz Solar Farm is situated on land that is non-prime for agriculture. It is previously tilled agricultural land that had limited productivity and was made less productive after a process of desertification. The Topaz renewable energy complex is found about six miles from the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Topaz has been designed with the land it's on to be maintained as grassland habitat for native animals and plants. The planning for Topaz began in early 2011, and the last phase of construction was completed in November 2014.
Topaz and the local economy
The Topaz Solar Farm has been great for the local economy. Topaz provided around 400 construction jobs for the over three years that it was in development, which, combined, were worth more than $190 million to the local economy. Local suppliers earned around $50 million from the project.
Around $15 million in sales taxes were generated during the construction, and up to $400,000 a year in new property tax revenues are collected annually from the renewable energy project. The Topaz Solar Farm is now responsible for hundreds of jobs, both directly, with permanent jobs on the solar farm, and indirectly, with contractors to the solar farm.
Please also see:
GCT Featured Articles
Decarbonizing the Transportation Sector with E-mobility | It's no secret that transportation is a major source of...Read Post
GREEN Tech for Healthy Air | Article by Jane Marsh | Cities are the heart of every global region. They are headquarters...Read Post
Sustainable cities, like San Diego, have eco-city designs that prioritize consideration of social, economic, and environmental...Read Post
Nationally Determined Contributions | As part of the ongoing global battle against climate change, almost 200 countries...Read Post
Learning From California's Struggle to Balance Decarbonization With Energy Resilience | Since California passed the...Read Post
Featuring over 2.5 million individual solar PV modules, and on 2,500 acres, in the town of Kamuthi in the Ramanathapuram...Read Post
Strategies for mitigating climate change | What are the best strategies for mitigating global warming? How is the...Read Post
Solar - the most abundant renewable energy on the planet | Recently there have been dramatic breakthroughs in solar...Read Post
Effective waste management strategies for cities include citywide recycling programs, circular economy strategies, as...Read Post
Defining effective carbon taxes | A carbon tax is a levy in countries and regions on: fossil fuel power plants, oil...Read Post