The World’s Largest Solar Plant Has Opened

The largest solar plant in the world is now officially open and operating in a California desert. Considered to be one of the best sources of renewable energy, solar power will now be coming in through the enormous solar plant to provide electricity to approximately 160,000 California homes.

According to the Desert Sun, the solar plant was built in Riverside County, California by Desert Sunlight. The plant was officially commissioned on Monday by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and a group of state officials. The project required a federal loan of $1.5 billion to complete but now contains a capacity of 550-megawatts.

“When you are stepping out with new technology, when you are trying something that has been untested before, a loan guarantee program from an organization like the Department of Energy is what provides you, as a lender, that certainty that you can step up and support the project,” said Sally Jewell.

While many conservative legislators have criticized the enormous solar plant as a waste of government money, Jewell claims the solar plant’s completion is of incredible importance. Reports from the Department of Energy claim the solar panel can potentially bring in $5 billion to $6 billion in profits, which can be spent on other efficient energy projects.

“They’re all rock-solid, money is good, living up to every kind of condition we put in the loan documents in terms of performance, in terms of commercial operation,” said Peter Davidson, executive director at the Department of Energy’s loan programs office.

Four other large-scale solar plants were also funded by Desert Sunlight, but the plant in Riverside County is the largest of them all.

The Desert Sunlight solar plant might be the largest in the world, but only slightly. Another solar plant in San Luis Obispo County has the exact same capacity as the Riverside County plant, but the newer project will be exposed to much more sunlight in the desert, therefore generating substantially more electricity than any other source of solar power.

Projects like this one mark the movement away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy sources. In fact, the solar plant’s construction will help meet the expectations put in place by California Governor Jerry Brown, who wants the state to increase renewable energy usage to 33 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2030, according to Time.

“The debate’s over — we’re going to be moving to more renewable energy,” said Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit. “We are ideally situated, here in eastern Riverside County, to host this kind of development in the future.”

For more on solar power, read about another California solar plant that some considered an accidental death ray.