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Construction starts on world’s largest solar development in US

MidAmerican Solar and SunPower start to build 579MW Antelope Valley PV project

The Antelope Valley Solar Projects makes up the world's largest solar development, which will power around 400,000 average Californian homes

Construction has started on the world's largest solar power development in the US. Firms MidAmerican Solar and SunPower Corp have begun construction on the 579MW Antelope Valley Solar Projects, which consists of two PV projects co-located in Kern and Los Angeles, California.

The photovoltaic projects make up the world's largest solar power development under construction. When complete, the projects will provide enough energy to power approximately 400,000 average California homes.

At the 3,230-acre site, SunPower is installing the SunPower® Oasis® Power Plant product, fully integrated, modular solar technology. The company said the technology is engineered to rapidly deploy utility-scale solar projects while minimising land use. The Oasis product uses high-efficiency SunPower solar panels mounted on SunPower T0 Trackers. These position the panels to track the sun during the day, increasing energy capture by up to 25 per cent, the company said. Construction is expected to be complete by year-end 2015.

Electricity generated by the projects will displace approximately 775,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. The 579MW development will employ approximately 650 workers during a three-year construction period; generate more than USD 500m in regional economic impact, the majority of which will be generated during construction; and serve California's growing electricity demand with clean, renewable solar power.

Howard Wenger, SunPower president, regions, said: "The start of construction on the Antelope Valley Solar Projects underscores that solar is a reliable, cost-competitive energy source. SunPower is proud to partner with MidAmerican Solar and Southern California Edison on this historic project, which is bringing critically needed jobs and economic opportunity to California today and will generate abundant clean, renewable power to the state over the long term."

The Antelope Valley Solar Projects will provide renewable energy to Southern California Edison under two long-term power purchase contracts. US firm MidAmerican Solar owns the projects. SunPower designed and developed the projects and is the engineering, procurement and construction contractor. SunPower will also provide operations and maintenance services for the plants via a multiyear services agreement.

Paul Caudill, president of MidAmerican Solar, said: "The Antelope Valley Solar Projects are already creating needed jobs and economic opportunity in local communities, while at the same time, providing direct, long-term environmental benefits. The MidAmerican Solar team is committed to working hand-in-hand with the development's neighbours and stakeholders."

The news from SunPower and MidAmerican Solar follows other world leading solar projects which are under development in the US. This includes the world's biggest solar power towers, which will be built in California and come online in 2016.