Earlier this month, the one millionth solar module was installed at what is the largest solar project under construction in the world. When complete, the 550-megawattAC project will include nearly 9 million photovoltaic (PV) modules.
On May 16, the first solar module was installed at Topaz Solar Farms, located in San Luis Obispo County, Calif. Now, MidAmerican Solar and First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) are marking another important milestone at the site.
“The installation of the one millionth module is a major accomplishment for everyone involved with the project,” said Paul Caudill, president of MidAmerican Solar. “Construction on Topaz Solar Farms began less than one year ago. Since then, we have worked as a team to ensure that as our top priority, we meet our commitments to the residents of San Luis Obispo County. We remain committed to safely constructing an environmentally friendly facility that will deliver reliable renewable energy to our customer, Pacific Gas and Electric Company.”
The Topaz project currently employs more than 800 workers at the site and is expected to provide approximately 400 construction jobs on average during its three-year construction period. The project will generate nearly $417 million in local economic impact, the majority of which will be generated during construction. When complete, the project will provide PG&E with enough renewable energy to power approximately 160,000 California homes.
“Topaz construction is moving ahead well,” said Jim Tyler, First Solar, vice president of project development engineering. “We’re pleased to be working with MidAmerican Solar on a project that positions San Luis Obispo County as a solar energy leader.”
Construction at the site began in late 2011 and is expected to be complete by early 2015. PG&E will purchase the electricity from the Topaz project under a 25-year power purchase agreement, helping California meet its mandate to generate 33 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020.
“We congratulate MidAmerican Solar and First Solar for reaching this milestone at Topaz Solar Farms,” said Fong Wan, senior vice president, energy procurement, PG&E. “PG&E provides to its customers some of the cleanest electricity in the nation, more than half of which comes from sources that are renewable or carbon free. Photovoltaic solar will be an important part of our energy mix as we work toward California’s 33 percent renewable portfolio standard. The work of our energy partners at Topaz Solar Farms also is helping us progress toward a clean energy future for all Californians.”
First Solar’s advanced thin-film PV modules generate electricity with no emissions, waste or water use and its systems have the smallest carbon footprint of any PV technology in the market today. Each module is approximately 4-feet-by-2-feet and weighs 27.5 pounds.
Electricity generated by the Topaz project will displace approximately 377,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year – the equivalent of taking approximately 73,000 cars off the road. First Solar’s collection and recycling program provides a responsible end of life for the PV modules. More than 90 percent of the material is reused.
MidAmerican Solar is a subsidiary of MidAmerican Renewables and is headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz. MidAmerican Solar’s primary projects include the 550-megawattAC Topaz project in San Luis Obispo County, Calif., and a 49 percent ownership interest in the 290-megawattAC Agua Caliente project in Yuma County, Ariz. More information is available at www.midamericanrenewablesllc.com.
MidAmerican Renewables is a subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, a global provider of energy services. Through its energy-related businesses, MidAmerican provides electric and natural gas service to 7 million customers worldwide. These businesses are Pacific Power, Rocky Mountain Power and PacifiCorp Energy, comprising PacifiCorp; MidAmerican Energy Company; Northern Powergrid Holdings Company; Northern Natural Gas Company; Kern River Gas Transmission Company; MidAmerican Renewables; and CalEnergy Philippines. Information about MidAmerican is available at www.midamerican.com.
First Solar is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic solar systems that use its advanced thin-film modules. The company’s integrated power plant solutions deliver an economically attractive alternative to fossil-fueled electricity generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life module collection and recycling, First Solar’s renewable energy systems protect and enhance the environment. For more information about First Solar, visit www.firstsolar.com.