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World’s largest PV plant reaches 250MW in US

Agua Caliente photovoltaic project under construction in Arizona to set “benchmark for industry”

The solar project will set a benchmark for large scale PV projects around the world

The world’s largest PV plant under construction in the US has reached 250MW of grid-connected power. The Agua Caliente project, which is being built in Arizona, will use advanced thin film and is expected to “set a new benchmark” for the solar industry when it is complete. 

The project in Yuma County, Arizona, is currently the world’s largest operating photovoltaic power plant and will have a generating capacity of 290MWAC when it is complete in 2014.

Arizona firm First Solar has designed and is constructing the project using its advanced thin-film photovoltaic modules. The firm will operate and maintain the facility for owners NRG Energy and MidAmerican Solar. The Pacific Gas and Electric Company has a 25-year power purchase agreement for the project's electrical output. It is projected to displace approximately 5.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over 25 years. The facility, which NRG and MidAmerican Solar owns, will employ a daily average of 400 to 450 workers during the construction period.

Initial construction work at the Agua Caliente site began in the fall of 2010 and solar module installation began in June of 2011, incorporating First Solar’s latest advances in system layout and design, optimised balance-of-system components, and integrated work-flow engineering.

The resulting efficiencies enabled the project to begin commercial operation just seven months later in January 2012 when it began generating 30MW of clean electricity for the grid. It surpassed 100MW of grid-connected power this spring and 200MW in the summer. Construction of the project is on schedule to be complete in 2014.

Jim Tyler, vice president of development engineering in First Solar’s engineering, procurement and construction group, said: “The Agua Caliente project exemplifies how utility-grade solar PV power can be rapidly deployed in a phased approach and seamlessly integrated into the electrical grid. We are extremely proud to set a new benchmark for the industry with Agua Caliente, which incorporates the knowledge gained over years of experience designing, building and operating utility-scale solar projects for leading utilities and energy providers.”