4 May 2012

MidAmerican and First Solar start major construction on world’s largest solar project

MidAmerican Solar of Phoenix, AZ (a subsidiary of MidAmerican Renewables LLC, itself part of global energy services provider MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company of Des Moines, Iowa) and cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaic module maker First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ have marked the start of major construction at Topaz Solar Farms in San Luis Obispo County, CA. The firms’ representatives held a groundbreaking ceremony at which they discussed the project's construction schedule, environmental values and community-centered plans with local and state community leaders and landowners. The event was followed by a community celebration at nearby Santa Margarita Ranch attended by more than 400 people.

The 550MWAC photovoltaic project will employ about 400 workers during its three-year construction period; will generate nearly $417m in local economic impact (most of which will be generated during construction); and will provide California with renewable electricity. When complete, it will be the world’s largest solar electric power plant, providing enough energy to power about 160,000 average California homes.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company will purchase the electricity from the Topaz project under a 25-year power purchase agreement, helping California meet its mandate to generate 33% of its power from renewable sources by 2020. Electricity generated by Topaz will displace about 377,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year (equivalent to taking about 73,000 cars off the road). “As Topaz is phased-in over time, it will help us meet that commitment while moving the state one step closer toward achieving its long-term environmental objectives,” says John Conway, PG&E’s senior VP for energy supply.

“In addition to providing clean energy and jobs, we're committed to working hand-in-hand with stakeholders to demonstrate how large-scale solar projects and geographies, such as the Carrizo Plain, can co-exist and benefit native biological species,” says MidAmerican Solar’s president Paul Caudill.

“Utility-scale PV projects like Topaz are the quickest and most cost-effective way to bring significant solar power to the grid,” says Jim Lamon, First Solar’s senior VP of engineering, procurement and construction, and operations and maintenance.

The Topaz project is owned by MidAmerican Solar and will be constructed, operated and maintained by First Solar. Construction began in November and is expected to be completed by early 2015.

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.midamericanrenewablesllc.com

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

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