First Solar breaks ground on 250 MW solar PV plant in Nevada


First Solar has officially broken ground on the Silver State South Solar project, located on public land near the California/Nevada border. The massive project will be 250 MW when complete, and occupies 12 square kilometers in Clark County in Southern Nevada.

A subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources bought the project from First Solar in May, and will operate the plant upon completion, with First Solar serving as engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor. NextEra will sell electricity from the plant to utility Southern California Edison under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

First Solar is building a lot of PV in the region, and is continuing to build very large projects at a time when the U.S. solar industry is moving towards smaller utility-scale PV. The U.S. Department of the Interior approved Silver State South in February, along with the 300 MW Stateline Solar project on the California side of the border.

Silver State South is also adjacent to the 50 MW Silver State North PV plant which First Solar completed in May of 2012. Additionally, in March First Solar began construction on a 250 MW-AC PV project on the Moapa River Indian Reservation in Nevada, which is on the other side of Las Vegas at the northern end of Clark County.

Outside of urban areas such as Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada is sparsely populated. First Solar is the largest developer in Nevada, and the state’s solar market is dominated by utility-scale PV. Many of these projects including Moapa Solar and Silver State South sell electricity to utilities in California, and Silver State South is located near a major transmission hub.