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Topaz Solar Farm
Solar Panels at Topaz Solar 5 (8159036498).jpg
Topaz Solar Farm solar panels
Topaz Solar Farm is located in California
Topaz Solar Farm
Location of Topaz Solar Farm in California
Country United States
Location Carrizo Plain, San Luis Obispo County, California
Coordinates 35°23′N 120°4′W / 35.383°N 120.067°W / 35.383; -120.067Coordinates: 35°23′N 120°4′W / 35.383°N 120.067°W / 35.383; -120.067
Status Operational
Construction began 2011
Commission date 2014
Owner(s) MidAmerican Renewables
Solar farm
Type Flat-panel PV
Site area 9.5 sq mi (25 km2)
Power generation
Nameplate capacity 550 MWAC
Annual generation 1,100 GWh
(125 MW avg. power)

Topaz Solar Farm is a 550-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic power station in San Luis Obispo County, California. Construction on the project began in November 2011 and ended in November 2014. It is one of the world's largest solar farms. The $2.5 billion project includes 9 million CdTe photovoltaic modules based on thin-film technology, manufactured by U.S. company First Solar. The company also built, operates and maintains the project for MidAmerican Renewables, a Berkshire Hathaway Company. Pacific Gas and Electric will buy the electricity under a 25-year power purchase agreement. According to First Solar, it created about 400 construction jobs.[1] Annual generation is expected to be 1,100 GWh, the capacity factor is 23%.[2]


OptiSolar, the instigator of the project, had optioned 9.5 square miles (25 km2) of ranchland,[3] In November 2009, First Solar announced that it had purchased options to an additional 640 acres (260 ha) from Ausra's canceled Carrizo Energy Solar Farm. First Solar would reconfigure the project to minimize the use of land covered by the Williamson Act.[4][5][6]

The project is utilizing nine million[7] thin-film cadmium telluride PV panels designed and manufactured by First Solar. The plant's power would be generated during the middle of the day, when demand for electricity — and price — is much higher than at night. The project was expected to begin construction in 2011 and be fully operational by 2014. California utilities are mandated to get 33% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.

On August 14, 2008, Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced agreements to buy the power from Topaz Solar Farm and High Plains Ranch.[8][9] In late October 2010 the San Luis Obispo Department Planning and Building released a Draft Environmental Impact report.

In June 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy offered First Solar a $1.9 billion loan guarantee to cover part of the financing for the project. The First Solar project was not able to close its conditional loan guarantee with the Department of Energy prior to the September 30 deadline, but it has gone ahead anyway.[1]

On May 18, 2012, First Solar announced the installation of the first PV panel.[10] On October 24, 2012, First Solar announced the installation of the millionth panel.[11] The plant began providing energy to the grid in February 2013.[12] The five-millionth panel was installed in October 2013.[13]


Monthly Electricity Generation in MW·h
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2013 239 24,499 18,660 31,026 40,465 47,772 58,441 53,196 47,407 39,423 40,180 401,308
2014 38,484 36,044 72,444 87,330 97,239 109,860 106,256 119,100 119,484 113,417 93,074 60,641 1,053,373
2015 89,635 92,946 108,651 114,967 103,163
Source: eia.gov – Electricity Data Browser[12]
Note: Interactive chart on EIA-website displays figures with an offset of one month.
Topaz Solar Farm from space. Earth Observatory image, 2015.
Timeline of the largest PV power stations in the world
Year(a) Name of PV power station Country Capacity
1982 Lugo USA 1
1985 Carrisa Plain USA 5.6
2005 Bavaria Solarpark (Mühlhausen) Germany 6.3
2006 Erlasee Solar Park Germany 11.4
2008 Olmedilla Photovoltaic Park Spain 60
2010 Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant Canada 97
2011 Huanghe Hydropower Golmud Solar Park China 200
2012 Agua Caliente Solar Project USA 290
2014 Topaz Solar Farm(b) USA 550
2015 Solar Star(b) USA 579
Also see list of noteworthy solar parks
(a) year of final commissioning (b) capacity given in  MWAC otherwise in MWDC


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Steve Leone (7 December 2011). "Billionaire Buffett Bets on Solar Energy". Renewable Energy World. 
  2. ^ Atul Sharma, A comprehensive study of solar power in India and World. In: Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 15, (2011), 1767–1776, p. 1772, doi:10.1016/j.rser.2010.12.017.
  3. ^ Sneed, David (2008-08-14). "Calif. utility agrees to buy solar power from two proposed plants". The Tribune. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  4. ^ Woody, Todd (November 5, 2009). "Ausra Sells Planned Plant to First Solar". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  5. ^ Sneed, David (November 5, 2009). "Solar power company drops out of plans for Carrizo Plain in eastern San Luis Obispo County". The Tribune. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  6. ^ Wang, Ucilia (November 5, 2009). "First Solar Buys Land Option From Ausra for Topaz Project". Greentech Media. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  7. ^ "Topaz Solar Farm". First Solar. Retrieved June 25, 2015. 
  8. ^ "PG&E Signs Historic 800 MW Photovoltaic Solar Power Agreements With Optisolar and Sunpower" (Press release). Pacific Gas and Electric. 2008-08-14. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  9. ^ Sneed, David (2008-08-14). "Calif. utility agrees to buy solar power from two proposed plants". McClatchy Newspapers. Retrieved 2011-04-30. 
  10. ^ "Pirst Photovoltaic Solar Panel Installed on Largest Solar Project in the World" (Press release). First Solar. 2012-05-18. Retrieved 2012-05-20. 
  11. ^ "One Millionth Photovoltaic Solar Module Installed at MidAmerican Solar's Topaz Project by First Solar" (PDF) (Press release). First Solar. October 24, 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-22. 
  12. ^ a b Energy Information Administration. "Topaz Solar Farm, Monthly". Electricity Data Browser. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  13. ^ Five Millionth Photovoltaic Solar Module Installed on 550-Megawatt Topaz Solar Farms, Business Wire, 10/09/2013

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topaz_Solar_Farm — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

355 news items


Thu, 20 Aug 2015 09:05:29 -0700

California is home to the largest solar panel farms in the world, including the 550 megawatt Topaz Solar farm, near San Luis Obispo, the 550 Desert Sunlight project in the Sonoran Desert east of Joshua Tree, and the 579 megawatt Solar Star, made of two ...

American Action Forum (blog)

American Action Forum (blog)
Wed, 02 Sep 2015 06:07:30 -0700

For example, the Topaz Solar Farm will produce 550 MW of solar power in an area covering 9.5 square miles. If this project were a representative sample, 112 GW of solar power will consume an area of land roughly 1.5 times larger than Rhode Island.

The San Luis Obispo Tribune

The San Luis Obispo Tribune
Wed, 01 Jul 2015 15:56:41 -0700

Cal Fire responded to a grass fire that burned underneath solar panels at the Topaz Solar Farm on Wednesday afternoon. Officials say about three acres had burned by 3:30 p.m., but no injuries were reported. At about 2:30 p.m., the agency received a ...
The Weather Channel
Wed, 12 Aug 2015 12:30:00 -0700

The Desert Sunlight solar project (left) gleams like a jewel in California's Mojave Desert on March 12, 2015. Topaz Solar Farm (right) rests on the Carrizo Plain of California, on September 11, 2014. (Photo Credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems ...

The San Luis Obispo Tribune

The San Luis Obispo Tribune
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 19:41:17 -0800

Related Stories: Solar project near Cholame will give SLO County's economy a boost · Apple building big solar energy farm near Cholame · California Valley's Topaz Solar Farm now producing electricity · California Valley Solar Ranch construction is ...

Washington Times

Washington Times
Mon, 24 Aug 2015 17:33:42 -0700

Environmentalists who held up the construction of the highly subsidized Topaz Solar Farm near Joshua Tree National Park expressed surprise when the publicly available plans were very, very vague as to where the new transmission line to get the ...

Motley Fool

Motley Fool
Sun, 09 Aug 2015 04:45:26 -0700

One of the biggest names in developing utility-scale solar projects in California is First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR). For a time, the company could lay claim to helping develop the largest solar facility in the world -- the Topaz Solar Farm. Consisting of ...


Tue, 20 Jan 2015 06:00:54 -0800

After close to four years of ongoing construction, plus three years of planning and permitting, the $2.4 billion, 550-megawatt Topaz Solar Farm — the first of this size in operation — is finally finished, and primed to sell power to California ...

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