This is the largest solar energy plant in the United States, with more than eight million solar panels and an area roughly 16 kilometers in size. The project was announced back in 2011 and intended to transform the energy sector throughout California, but nearly 1.4 billion dollars later. Why did the U.S. government build this massive solar facility and how has it impacted, California’s goals of operating on 100% renewable energy? The desert sunlight solar farm was first announced back in 2011 and was completed just four years.
The solar farm is co-owned by three different companies: Next Era Energy Resources, GE financial services and the Sumitomo corporation of America. All share ownership of the facility. The solar farm generates enough electricity to power more than 160 thousand California homes after being produced.
The electricity is then sold to the Southern California Edison company under a 25-year power purchase agreement, in addition to the direct jobs created by the solar farm, it’s estimated that the project will create nearly one billion dollars in economic activity throughout the state over the life of the project.
To understand the real goal of this facility, we need to take a look at the current energy situation in California. Currently, natural gas is the largest source of energy for the state, accounting for about 50 percent of energy production, with roughly half of the state’s energy being produced by non-renewable forms of electricity.
Throughout the past few decades, solar energy in the state has been rapidly expanding into hundreds of new facilities. To date, the state government has spent upwards of 73 billion dollars on various solar energy projects throughout the state, and there are a number of reasons behind this.
For one studies have revealed that California is the best state to build solar farms resulting in the maximum effectiveness of each of the panels. The state sees nearly 300 sunny or partly cloudy days per year, allowing the solar farms to profit from electricity on nearly every single day of the year.
Additionally, the state has many vast areas of open land that can be turned into solar farms when it comes to desert sunlight, solar farm, the state needed a large area capable of storing nearly 8 million solar panels, while at the same time maximizing the effectiveness of this Multi-Billion dollar project in the end, the project’s success can be tied to the effectiveness of building solar farms in the state of California.
Today, desert sunlight solar farm supplies electricity to more than 160,000 homes and helps solar make up about 17 of the state’s total energy production. In all, there are more than 750 solar facilities across the state, and the government is continuously working to expand into even more facilities in the coming years.
California has a goal of using 100% renewable energy by 2045.. In order to meet these ambitious deadlines, the state government is developing a number of renewable energy projects and legislation to go along with them, in addition to the state having the best conditions for solar farms.
One of the most important factors is the economics behind building a solar facility in the past, solar has been unreliable and extremely expensive, making the return on investment take extremely long amounts of time.
This has then obstructed plans for large-scale solar facilities to be constructed, but recently the developments of new and advanced solar technology have allowed solar farms and solar panels to become a lot more affordable.
The types of panels that these large-scale farms are using are called photovoltaic panels. When the sun shines onto these panels, the energy from the sunlight is absorbed into the interior cells and into a conductive wire from there.
The electricity is distributed to either a storage facility or directly for usage in the past. Photovoltaic panels have been extremely expensive to build and operate, but throughout the past few years, prices for these panels have dropped by double digit figures.
This has then allowed more companies and state governments to begin investing into solar technology. Well, these panels are mainly for converting sunlight into electricity. Regular solar panels are mainly used for turning solar radiation into heat energy.
This then creates the difference between utility scale solar panels and residential scale. Solar technology will the availability of open land and the economics behind these panels are factors behind the rapid expansion of solar energy.
We also have to account for the reliability of solar power compared to other forms of electricity generation. Studies have found that for every 10,000 solar panels in operation, roughly five of them end up failing every year.
This very minimal percentage of the total panels allows them to be more reliable than other forms of power generation for a state such as California, solar energy is currently allowing the state to suffer the decrease in production by hydroelectric power as a result of the ongoing drought.
The production of hydroelectricity in the state has been steadily declining throughout the past few years as the water levels at the hoover dam and many other reservoirs have fallen to extremely low levels.
This is just another key cause of the state’s rapid expansion into solar energy production. As we can see, this project has worked out very well for the state of California and the U.S. Department of Energy.
The purpose of this facility was to profit from a very large area of land in central California and continue expanding the state’s network of solar farms. But not everyone is in agreement with this transition into renewable energy, while the state of California is promoting further construction of new solar farms.
Not everyone is in agreement with this transition into renewable energy. We have to keep note of the many disadvantages that solar energy farms come along with. They may alter the landscape and environment in negative ways, and they take up a very large amount of space.
These factors influence where solar farms can be built and if they receive permits for construction. The problem is that there has been disagreement between the state government and local residents debating as to where solar farms should be built, how large they will be and the local impacts of the projects.
Various studies have revealed that solar farms can reduce surrounding property values, and this has caused the disagreement when it comes to constructing new solar facilities. Because of this, the state has chosen to build some of the largest solar farms in remote areas of the state where they are not negatively affecting property values nearby.
In the end, these debates will unfortunately, continue as the state looks, to continue constructing even more solar facilities. Throughout the next few decades, in the end, the department of energy has invested such a large amount of money into this project because of the long-term benefits of solar energy production, while California does have ideal conditions to build solar farms.
There is a long list of benefits that come along with this technology. The economics behind these panels have also convinced many companies to dive into solar energy and build massive production farms across the state.
Today, California is seeing the most benefits from its investments into solar energy. As non-renewable forms of energy production have either become too expensive or not as effective as they previously were, while the state has invested billions of dollars into solar technology.
Recent reports have stated that the entire state may still face electricity shortages as a result of transitioning away from fossil fuels. While we have yet to see the full effect of this initiative, only time will tell if california’s investment into solar energy really pays off.
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