On our cover this month is the Sempra Generation Copper Mountain Solar facility, now the largest photovoltaic solar plant in the U.S.
by Pete Singer
On our cover this month is the Sempra Generation Copper Mountain Solar facility, now the largest photovoltaic solar plant in the U.S. The 48-megawatt (MW) project is located adjacent to Sempra Generation’s 10-MW El Dorado Solar installation in Boulder City, Nev., about 40 miles southeast of Las Vegas. The power from Copper Mountain Solar and El Dorado Solar has been sold to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) under separate 20-year contracts. Construction was completed in December of 2010, at which time it was operational. The site was officially dedicated on March 18, 2011, at which time Sempra announced plans to expand the Copper Mountain Solar complex by more than 200 MW.
The Copper Mountain facility was recently named “Solar Project of the Year” by the editors of the Renewable Energy World network, which includes five print magazines (including this one) and four websites. Winners were selected from among the five finalists in each technology category. To be eligible for an award, a project needed to have been completed in 2010, be in North America and make a significant impact on the entire renewable energy industry. When judging the finalists, network editors considered the innovative technology that was employed as well as the projects’ impact on the industry at large and on the communities in which they were installed.
Construction on Copper Mountain Solar began in January 2010 at the 380-acre desert site. Nearly 775,000 thin-film photovoltaic solar panels were installed. First Solar of Tempe, Ariz., supplied the solar panels and served as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor. The solar facility is now generating enough emission-free electricity to power about 14,000 average homes.
“Completing Copper Mountain Solar is a major accomplishment. It demonstrates that large-scale solar can be developed at a rapid pace to help this country meet its clean energy needs,” said Jeffrey W. Martin, president and chief executive officer of Sempra Generation.
The speed at which solar PV can be installed and brought online is, indeed, one of its major advantages compared to other types of renewable energy.
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