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To help better understand some of the solar installations currently producing electricity let's take a short tour...

Two new large scale solar panel farms go live this week in US
December 19, 2007
Two new solar panel farms opened this week in Nevada and Colorado.
The Air Force announced that they’ve completed the largest solar photovoltaic system in North America.  Located at Nellis Air Force Base which is near Las Vegas, Nevada, the new solar  system covers 140 acres of land at Nellis, and consists of a whopping 72,000 SunPower solar panels.  The panels use SunPower Tracker technology, so they swivel during the day to track the sun and provide 30 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year. The 14 megawatt solar farm will provide about a quarter of the electricity used at Nellis, where about 12,000 people live and work.  The solar farm was financed and will be operated by MMA Renewable Ventures LLC who will sell power back to the Air Force for 20 years at a fixed rate. 

 

The second announcement was made by SunEdison LLC who opened an 8.22 megawatt photovoltaic solar farm in Alamoso, Colorado.  The farm, which covers 80 acres of land, will sell electricity to Public Service of Colorado, which is the state’s largest utility.

20 Megawatt Solar Facility in Spain

With an installed peak power capacity of 20 megawatts, world's largest photovoltaic solar power farm has opened in Spain. This farm surpasses the solar farm at the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada which is rated at 14 megawatts. The new solar farm consists of 120,000 solar panels and covers 100 hectares (247 acres) in Jumilla, a wine-producing region in southern Spain, where the local Mayor says 300 days of sun a year are guaranteed. The farm's total annual production will be the equivalent of the energy used by 20,000 homes.

The solar panels are owned by groups of investors. It’s expected to generate an estimated annual income of $28 million (€19 million) and a reduction in CO2 emissions of 42,000 tons a year. Powerlight provided single-axis solar trackers to improve the system´s performance.
You may wonder about the environmental impact of this huge development. A local Spanish association called Juncellus, was called on to ensure high environmental criteria in the construction of the plant. They included replanting around the plant, water deposits for fires, drinking troughs for birds and other such details.
According to the figures given by the Spanish Minister of Industry, renewable energy currently accounts for around 7% of the total primary energy produced in Spain.

Solar Farms Ontario, Canada
article and image courtesy www.greensoldiers.ca/solar-farms

Rising energy costs as well as concern about carbon emissions and air quality are enhancing interest in solar energy. In Europe, Asia and Ontario, governments are providing incentives to encourage the use of solar to provide cleaner and more environmentally sustainable sources of electricity. Green Soldiers is focused on developing clean solar energy projects in the Province of Ontario, under the Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP) developed by the Ontario Ministry of Energy and the Ontario Power Authority (OPA).



Ontario has a good solar resource – the same resource that fuels its 25 million acres of farmland. Ontarians have a sophisticated electricity infrastructure and a growing demand for clean, reliable electricity generation. Under the RESOP, Green Soldiers pays all the costs of building, maintaining and operating its solar farms, earning its revenue from sale of electricity to the OPA.

What our projects look like and their local environmental impacts
Each solar project has a maximum size of 10 megawatts (MW) and is connected to the local electricity grid. Each installation contains thousands of solar panels, aimed to gather maximum sunlight and mounted in rows to form a solar array. Each solar farm consists of many arrays spread over up to 250 acres of land.

How It Works
Photovoltaics allow for direct conversion of light (photo) into electricity (voltaics). Most commercial solar cells use a special form of crystalline silicon to convert sunlight to electricity. The solar industry’s production capacity is restricted by the limited availability of crystalline silicon.

Benefits of solar electricity in Ontario
Solar farms add to the reliability of the provincial electricity system because they produce great amounts of electricity on hot, sunny summer days, when electricity demand reaches its peak in Ontario because of the load added by air conditioning.

 

Pennsylvania Governor breaks ground for the fourth largest solar power facility in USA
Arpita Mukherjee | Mar 21 2008
 
Rising crude prices has finally brought USA to adapt green energy sources on a large scale. To help the growth of the nation not to be arrested by lack of energy, the Governor of Pennsylvania Edward G. Rendell has broken ground for USA’s fourth largest solar power facility. The facility likely to be completed by September or October this year will meet energy requirement of approximately 400 homes in the Bucks County of Pennsylvania.

The $20 million project owned by EPURON – the Exelon-EPURON Solar Center with 16,500 solar panels will help in reducing emission of greenhouse gases that is equivalent to planting 33 acres of trees every year or eliminating 440 cars from the annual traffic. Pennsylvania has committed to reaching a solar capacity of more than 860 megawatts by 2021. With Exelon-EPURON solar center coming up with a 3-megawatt capacity project, further future investment in solar facilities are required in the state.

One of the greatest impediments of setting up alternative energy facilities is the high cost of these projects compared with the conventional energy sources. Nevertheless, the Pennsylvanian Governor believes that once these solar energy facilities would be established it would help to bring down costs.

The initiative taken by the administration of Pennsylvania is seeing green energy companies like Gamesa, a wind-turbine manufacturer and AE Polysilicon Corp., maker of solar cells components flocking to the Lower Bucks County.

Duke plugs into Davidson solar farm

Photo Courtesy of SunEdison and Zinn Photography

SunEdison will invest $173 million in its solar farm in Davidson County, which will be twice the size of its solor farm in Alamosa, Colo.

By Michael Hewlett | Journal Reporter
Published: May 22, 2008



LEXINGTON — SunEdison LLC of Maryland has committed to building the largest photovoltaic solar farm in the country in Davidson County.

Yesterday, Duke Energy Carolinas, a unit of Duke Energy Corp., announced that it will buy the entire electricity output of the proposed 21.5-megawatt solar-energy farm.

Larry Potts, the chairman of the Davidson County Board of Commissioners, said that the solar farm will help the county recruit other industry.

"I think SunEdison is one of the major building blocks to bring it all together," Potts said. Davidson County commissioners approved about $2 million in incentives earlier this month for the solar farm.

The county would pay $1.8 million for grading and provide cash grants of $125,000 in 2009, $75,000 in 2010 and $50,000 in 2011. The company would invest $173 million in the solar farm and provide up to 80 construction jobs and three full-time jobs.
State legislators and energy experts point to a state energy law passed last year as critical in attracting SunEdison to North Carolina.

The energy law, intended to promote renewable energy, requires power companies to obtain a set percentage of their energy from solar power and other renewable sources.
Under the 20-year agreement, Duke Energy will get more than 16 megawatts of power from the solar farm beginning no later than Dec. 31, 2010. That's enough power for 2,647 homes for one year. (Some of the energy produced by the solar farm would be lost during the transfer process.)

The farm, which would cover between 100 and 300 acres, would be completely operational by 2011, he said.

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