The first 500-plus megawatt solar power plant is now up and running in the US. Topaz, as it’s being called, is located in San Luis Obispo County on California’s Carrizo Plain and is the result of two years of hard work. Oh, and it also happens to be the largest solar power farm in the world according to a report from Greentech Media.
The photos really don’t do the solar farm justice. The $2.5 billion project was manufactured by First Solar and consists of nine million solar panels arranged over a massive 9.5 square miles. The farm wasn’t supposed to be ready until sometime early next year but is now online.
Topaz is capable of generating 550 megawatts which is enough to supply power to 160,000 homes and eliminate 377,000 tons of CO2 each year. The publication was quick to point out that it was built on "disturbed" farm land miles away from sensitive areas like the Carrizo Plain National Monument.
The farm will only retain the title of world’s largest for a short time, however. Next year, the Solar Star plant is expected to go online that’ll be capable of turning out 579 megawatts.
While impressive, one has to wonder whether or not the panels will be able to maximize their efficiency. Earlier this week, researchers revealed they’d come up with a way to improve solar panel efficiency by up to 20 percent simply by using the quasi-random patterns etched into Blu-ray discs.