Solar Power in California

Solar power in California has been growing rapidly because of high insolation, community support, declining solar costs, and a Renewable Portfolio Standard which requires that 33% of California‘s electricity come from renewable resources by 2020, and 50% by 2030.[1] Much of this is expected to come from solar power. In 2014, utility-scale solar power in California generated 9.9 million megawatt-hours, more than double the amount generated in 2013, and more than five percent of total utility-scale electrical generation in the state.[2]

Over the last 20 years, California has been home to a number of “world’s largest” solar facilities.

In 1991, the 354 MW solar thermal Solar Energy Generating Systems plant (located in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County, California) held the title until being bested by the 392 MW Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a concentrated solar thermal plant located in San Bernardino County near the Nevada border.

In 2014, the 550 MW Topaz Solar Farm became the new “world’s largest operational” solar facility went online in Riverside County, California. A second 550 MW facility by First Solar, Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, also went online in Riverside County in 2014. Both these were superseded, however, by the Solar Starphotovoltaic project that went online with 579 MW in June 2015 in Antelope Valley, California (located on Los Angeles and Kern counties). While California hosts the three largest photovoltaic facilities in the world (as of July 2015), there are yet several proposals for even larger facilities seeking regulatory approval in California.[5]

California also leads the nation in the number of homes which have solar panels installed, totaling over 230,000.[6] Many were installed because of the Million Solar Roof Initiative.[7]

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