Solar energy comes in all shapes and sizes, from single-panel-powered gadgets like the new cell phone chargers to rooftop solar systems to solar farms. Things sure are evolving!
Even within these categories, there’s plenty of room for variety. Take solar farms, for instance. Sometimes solar farms are beautiful (we’ve done a few of those kinds of jobs); sometimes they’re hidden behind trees or hedges; sometimes they float on a body of water; and sometimes they’re so high up atop rooftops that you’d only notice them from a plane or drone.
Then there are mega solar power plants–the kind so big you can see them from outer space.
Let’s look at the largest solar farm here in the United States located in Los Angeles, CA.
America’s Largest Solar Farm
Solar Star, America’s largest solar farm, was actually the biggest in the world when it was completed in June of 2015. It consists of 1.7 million solar panels spread out over 3,200 acres in Kern and Los Angeles Counties, California.
For context, that’s about the size of 142 football fields–or 4 times the size of Central Park.
All told, Solar Star produces 579 megawatts of energy, enough to power about 255,000 homes. Southern California Edison buys that energy and distributes it to customers.
Here are a few other neat facts about the Solar Star projects:
· Solar Star was built on “disturbed” land, meaning essentially that the land had already been altered or built on by people.
· The panels get cleaned automatically in a way that uses minimal water.
· The solar panels use a single-axis tracker to follow the sun’s motion across the sky. This makes them about 25% more efficient than motionless panels.
· The net environmental impact of a project this size? Essentially the equivalent of taking 108,000 cars off the road every year.
That’s a lot of clean energy!