NRG Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NRG) and MidAmerican Renewables, LLC announced that their 290-megawattAC Agua Caliente solar project has earned two top solar project awards. The Yuma County, Ariz., photovoltaic power project being built by First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) was named Solar Project of the Year by Renewable Energy World, a leading industry magazine, and PV Project of the Year by Solar Power Generation USA, the industry's leading utility-scale solar power conference.
The first 30-megawatt phase of the project began commercial operation in January.
"The editors of the Renewable Energy World network feel strongly that Agua Caliente represents the direction that solar power is taking in North America," said managing editor Jennifer Runyon. "Large-scale solar power will help this region meet its renewable energy goals. For this reason, we were delighted to name Agua Caliente Solar Project of the Year in our 2012 Excellence in Renewable Energy Award program."
"Agua Caliente is a shining example of how choosing the right location, selecting the best technology, and assembling a world-class team is crucial for the success of any solar project," said Tom Doyle, CEO and president, NRG Solar. "This project is a testament to the success of the U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee program in putting Americans back to work. Currently, more than 400 workers are building the largest solar project in the state of Arizona."
"Agua Caliente is an exceptional project. This national recognition further demonstrates the viability of solar as an important renewable energy resource," said Bill Fehrman, president, MidAmerican Renewables.
The Agua Caliente project is expected to be the world's largest operational PV power plant upon completion in 2014. When fully operational, the project will generate enough clean solar electricity to serve the needs of approximately 100,000 average U.S. homes.
"We are pleased to see this landmark utility-scale solar project recognized," said James Lamon, First Solar senior vice president of engineering, procurement and construction. "A few years ago, PV projects of this size were only dreamed of; now, we are building them."
First Solar designed and is constructing the project using its advanced thin-film photovoltaic modules and will operate and maintain the facility for NRG and MidAmerican Renewables. The plant is equipped with an advanced technology control system to facilitate integration with the transmission grid. Features include regulation for dynamic voltage, power factor, and reactive power.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company has a long-term power purchase agreement for all of the project's generation, which is projected to offset approximately 5.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over its 25-year life.