- The 550 MW Desert Sunlight project co-owned by NextEra Energy Resources, GE Energy Financial Services, and Sumitomo just went online, joining MidAmerican Energy Holdings’s 550 MW Topaz Solar project, which went online late last year, as the two biggest solar power plants in the world in full operation.
- MidAmerican Energy’s 579 MW Solar Stars project will take the "world’s biggest" crown when it goes fully operational later this year. SunPower, manufacturer of the most efficient solar modules, is the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor for it.
- Desert Sunlight is the last of five 100-plus MW PV solar projects backed by the Department of Energy’s Loan Project Office (LPO) to go online. The loan guarantees of $4.6 billion led to 17 subsequent 100-plus MW solar projects built without federal support, representing 3.6 GW of installed capacity.
The other four original DOE-backed projects, according to a new DOE report, were the 290 MW Agua Caliente co-owned by NRG Solar and MidAmerican, the 242 MW Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One owned by Exelon, the 250 MW California Valley Solar Ranch co-owned by NRG Energy and NRG Solar, and the 170 MW Mesquite Solar co-owned by Sempra companies and Consolidated Edison.
The US had 22 MW of utility-scale solar when the first five projects were awarded LPO backing in 2008. At the time, the Energy Information Administration predicted there would be only 140 MW of utility-scale PV by 2015. Total U.S. utility-scale PV capacity reached 8.1 GW at Q3 2014's close.
First Solar, the biggest builder of utility-scale solar in the world, served as the EPC contractor for Topaz and Desert Sunlight. Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison have power purchase agreements for parts of Desert Sunlight’s output. PG&E is taking all the production from Topaz.