The Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, Riverside County, California.

Taking a Look at The Desert Sunlight Solar Farm.

Earlier this year, the world’s largest solar powered plant was opened in the desert of Riverside County, California. The power plant has an output capacity of 550 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 160,000 homes. This is in line with California’s vision to source 33% of all electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.

Construction of the project was made possible by $1.5 billion in federal loan guarantees. The U.S. Department of Energy, which acted on behalf of the government in this deal, say they expect the project to make between $5 billion and $6 billion in profits.

Building the Desert Sun Solar Farm in California

Building the Desert Sun Solar Farm in California

Benefits of the Project

The project is estimated to displace almost 300,000 metric tons of CO2 gas every year. It is a positive step towards the state’s goal of sourcing 33% of all power from renewable sources. It is important to note how the renewable sector is creating jobs among Americans. For example, throughout construction of the Solar farm, 440 construction workers were hired at different levels. It also enlisted the services of 40 businesses in California thus providing a much needed boost to the local economy.

It should be noted that the future of renewable energy is optimistic. This is because it is perceived as a sustainable option to the public. In connection to this, the benefits of using solar energy will continue to shape the United States, and California will be a perfect example for renewable energy efforts.

How It Works

The project makes use of photovoltaic solar panels to produce electricity. It is situated on 4,000 acres of federally owned land. First Solar Development Inc. (First Solar) operates the plant. It was dubbed the Desert Solar Sunlight Farm (DSSF). It consists of three main parts that are the solar Farm site, a transmission line and a substation owned and operated by an Edison in Southern California ; the Red Bluff Substation.The United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has so far approved 52 large-scale renewable energy projects since 2009. Of these, 29 are solar plants. The project’s first module was installed in the year 2011. It now boasts of 8.1 million panels, which work in unison to generate up to 550 megawatts of power.

This technology utilizes solar radiation and converts into electric energy. It is slightly different form other solar technologies currently running in the deserts of California called thermal solar power plants. They use giant mirrors controlled by a supercomputer to direct the sun’s thermal energy for electricity generation.


California, which is also the world’s seventh largest economy, is leading in the use of renewable energy. In connection to this, there is all the likelihood that it will continue assuming a leading position in renewable energy at least in the near future. Currently, the three largest solar plants in the world are already located in the deserts of California. This has earned has earned the state many accolades from renewable energy advocates. The state legislative arm is expected to ratify of the governor’s vision of powering the state using 50% renewable energy. These are quite exciting times for the state of California in the renewable energy and a small step towards ridding the world of greenhouse gas emissions from hydrocarbon-based fuels.

About Gordon Smith
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.

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