Mammoth Desert Sunlight solar farm begins commercial operation

One of the world’s largest solar PV projects has commenced commercial operation in California, a couple of months after its completion and connection to the grid.

This week, the 550 MW Desert Sunlight, located in Riverside County, plant began delivering solar energy to the grid, and the occasion was marked by an inauguration ceremony that gathered together 150 interested officials and industry representatives.

The PV plant uses eight million First Solar CdTe thin-film solar modules and covers an area of 10 square miles. Project owners NextEra Energy Resources, GE Energy Financial Services and Sumitomo Corporation of Americas flipped the switch of the plant yesterday, thus beginning its generating lifecycle that will see it generate enough solar energy to power 160,000 Californian households.

"We are proud that Desert Sunlight will help California meet its renewable energy goals and has helped bring much-needed jobs and economic benefits to families and businesses throughout Riverside County," said NextEra Energy Resources president and CEO Armando Pimentel.

First Solar was instrumental in permitting and constructing the plant, and will now operate the project over its lifetime. Power produced by Desert Sunlight will be purchased by Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric Company, each under long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs).

Throughout the lengthy construction process, the Desert Sunlight project created 440 construction work jobs and enlisted the services of 40 Californian businesses.