A solar power plant is a facility that supplies power to local cities and townships, as well as power companies, which have all adopted the approach of using a renewable energy source to provide power for the consumers they service. The best place to locate solar power plants is in the American Southwest, where solar radiation is the most consistent and the most intense – this means the most amount of sunlight can be harvested for the production of electricity.
America’s biggest solar power plants
One of the biggest solar power plants in America is the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, at the edge of the Mojave Desert, roughly 80 miles east of Palm Springs California. This plant uses more than 8 million photovoltaic panels to absorb sunlight that shines at least 300 days out of every year, for the purpose of converting it into electrical current. The electricity generated is sufficient to provide power for more than 160,000 homes in the state of California.
Topaz Solar Farm, which is about 400 miles west of Central California, is another huge solar power plant in this country which is capable of generating 550 MW of power, a figure equivalent to the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm. By contrast, the very first solar power plant in the US, which was built in 1982, generated only 1 MW of electricity. These two enormous solar power plants have the capability of providing a combined 340,000 homes with a clean source of energy, while also having the effect of removing 130,000 vehicles from the road.
As recently as 10 years ago, this kind of power generation from solar energy seemed like an impossibility, because it was deemed too expensive to be a practical solution on a large scale. However, all that changed as a result of a dramatic increase in solar panel production globally, coupled with a corresponding increase in second-generation solar technology, which made conversion into electricity much more efficient, and therefore much more cost-effective.
The future of solar power plants
The future of solar power plants appears bright in the United States, with six fully operational plants already in production, and another 29 in various stages of planning and construction in the states of California and Nevada. Since the federal government administers almost 250 million acres of US territory, mostly in the far West where desert and abundant sunlight conditions prevail, there is room for a great many more solar power plants to be built.
As these solar power plants begin to come online and provide homes throughout the country with clean solar energy, it can be expected that, in addition to providing a solution to the country’s ever-growing needs for electricity, the environment will correspondingly acquire a gradually improving, cleaner aspect. The combination of cleaner energy production with a virtually unlimited energy resource, make solar power plants a vital part of the country’s future.