Another huge solar panel farm opens in California

Just months after the world’s largest solar panel farm, called Topaz, was turned on outside of San Luis Obispo, Calif., on Monday a similarly-large solar panel farm is being officially dedicated in Riverside County. The solar farm is called Desert Sunlight, and it — like Topaz — has enough capacity for 550 MW, and can produce enough solar electricity for 160,000 homes.

The Topaz solar farm.

The Topaz solar farm.

Desert Sunlight, which was was quietly finished in mid-January, was installed on land managed by the Federal Bureau of Land Management, and, like Topaz, is using solar panels from First Solar. NextEra Energy, GE Energy Financial Services and Sumitomo Corporation of America own Desert Sunlight and the project used guarantees from the U.S. government to back $1.4 billion in loans.

The U.S. government’s loan program took the opportunity of the Desert Sunlight dedication to tout how its loan guarantees helped spur the market for utility scale solar in the Southwest of the U.S. A release notes: “LPO helped finance the first five utility-scale PV projects larger than 100 MW in the U.S. With Desert Sunlight now fully operational, all five projects are online, generating clean electricity and repaying loans.”

To read more about why these huge solar panel farms are being built and how they work check out:

Special report: How the rise of a mega solar farm shows us the future of energy