Thursday, May 1, 2008

OptiSolar Planning World's Largest Photovoltaic Plant


Written by Hank Green

Utility-scale, thin-film solar manufacturer OptiSolar just released plans to create the largest solar photovoltaic farm in the world. The farm would be built in San Luis Obispo County, California, and would, at peak production, produce about 500 MW of solar power. This is roughly the same amount as a coal-fired power plant, enough to power some 190,000 homes.

The largest photovoltaic farm in America at Nellis Air Force Base (pictured) is 40x smaller than this project would be.

OptiSolar uses thin-film, amorphous silicon technology. Their panels use a tiny amount of non-crystaline silicon, allowing them to be far cheaper than traditional crystalline solar panels. The trade-off is that the panels themselves are far less efficient than traditional panels.

The solar farm will take advantage of incentives from the state and county, which both have aggressive renewable energy goals. OptiSolar hopes to begin construction in 2010 with full capacity coming online before 2013. But hurdles remain...the state will have to approve the project, and OptiSolar will have to secure the funding for it, before we'll know for sure if this will take the title of world's largest photovoltaic farm.

Via Good Clean Tech, OptiSolar and BusinessGreen

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