Today, NRG Energy, Inc., MidAmerican Solar and First Solar, Inc. announced that the 290-megawatt Agua Caliente solar project, currently under construction in Yuma County, Ariz., is more than two-thirds complete and delivering more than 200 megawatts to the electric grid. The Agua Caliente project is the world's largest operating photovoltaic power plant.
The facility, which is owned by NRG and MidAmerican Solar, employs a daily average of 400 to 450 workers during the construction period. Expected to be completed in 2014, the project uses solar plant controls and forecasting capabilities to integrate its output with the power grid. The Agua Caliente project is being financed with support from a loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy's Loan Programs Office.
"The Agua Caliente project sets the highest standard for what we can accomplish with today's solar technology when combined with a strong public-private partnership at the national level," said Tom Doyle, CEO of NRG Solar. "First Solar's performance on this project, from their technology and execution to their outstanding safety record, has exceeded all our expectations and we are extremely pleased with the results so far."
"This is an incredible milestone for the Agua Caliente project and solar energy sector," said Paul Caudill, president, MidAmerican Solar. "The working relationships we have with NRG Energy, First Solar and Pacific Gas & Electric allow for the construction process to continue in a safe and efficient manner. We are pleased with the progress and look forward to the project's completion."
"PG&E congratulates the developers for achieving this significant milestone at Aqua Caliente," said John Conway, PG&E's Senior Vice President for Energy Supply. "We look forward to the project's continued success as we work together to meet California's ambitious renewable energy goals. Solar projects like this are helping PG&E provide its customers with some of the nation's cleanest electric power, more than half of which comes from sources that are renewable or emit no greenhouse gases."
"First Solar is very proud of the rapid progress we are making at Agua Caliente," said Jim Lamon, First Solar Senior Vice President for Engineering, Procurement and Construction and Operations and Maintenance. "We have achieved record-setting installation velocities, while maintaining our excellent safety record and achieving the highest quality in the industry. It is pleasure to be a part of moving utility scale solar to its rightful place as a dependable and cost-effective power generation source for U.S. and international utilities."
First Solar designed and is constructing the project using its thin-film photovoltaic modules and will operate and maintain the facility for NRG and MidAmerican Solar. Pacific Gas and Electric Company has a long-term power purchase agreement for the project's generation, which is projected to offset approximately 5.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over 25 years, the equivalent of taking more than 40,000 cars off the road annually.