First Solar, a maker of thin-film solar cells, has signed an agreement with Southern California Edison to sell the utility 550 megawatts of electricity produced by two massive photovoltaic solar farms in the Mojave Desert.
The plants, expected to go online by 2015 and produce enough electricity to power 170,000 homes, would be built on federal land set aside for such solar projects.
Analysts say that the First Solar deal is a sign that large arrays of solar photovoltaic panels can produce electricity competitively with so-called solar-thermal plants, which generate electricity by using mirrors to focus sunlight on liquid-filled boilers to produce steam. Southern California Edison said that Nevada-based First Solar’s solar farms also will produce electricity at a price competitive with natural gas.
“This is the very largest photovoltaic project we have done, demonstrating that at a utility scale, the time has come for such projects,” said a Southern California Edison executive.
Appearing courtesy of Yale Environment 360.