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USA starts work on 250MW solar power project in Nevada

Copper Mountain Solar 3 project in Nevada will be capable of generating enough electricity to power 80,000 homes

This will be the third phase of the Copper Mountain Solar project. (Pic: Sempra)

By Nilima Choudhury

The construction of what will be the world’s largest polycrystalline solar project is underway in Boulder City, Nevada.

Situated on about 1,400 acres of land, this is the third phase of Sempra US Gas & Power’s landmark Copper Mountain Solar complex, currently one of the largest photovoltaic (PV) solar plants in the US.

Slated for completion in 2015, Copper Mountain Solar 3 will be capable of generating enough electricity to power approximately 80,000 homes.

Solar panel manufacture Trina Solar has been chosen to provide 1.1 million of its PV polycrystalline modules.

“This is the largest single installation using polycrystalline modules that is currently proposed, permitted and under construction, with PPA and financing in place. As such, it is a first using this technology in a single location of this size,” Mark Mendenhall, president of Trina Solar Americas told RTCC.

Out of the main types of solar panels available on the market, polycrystalline is the most cost-effective and can be identified by its square shape and chequered appearance.

Construction, by developer AMEC, on the 250MW solar project has already begun and will create over 300 jobs and 12 permanent operations jobs.

The first phase has a capacity of 58MW and was completed in December 2010, while the second phase had a total capacity of 150MW with 92MW completed this year and the remaining 58MW is due to be completed in 2015.

Solar boom

One solar PV system is currently being installed in the US every four minutes.

If market growth continues at its current pace, the American solar industry could be installing a system every minute and twenty seconds by 2016 according to a report by GTM Research and the US Solar Energy Industry Association.

The US solar market had a strong first quarter this year with 723MW of solar PV capacity installed, which represents a 33% increase in deployment levels over Q1 2012.

GTM has forecast this growth will continue throughout the year with 4,400MW of PV and 938MW of concentrating solar power expected to come online in 2013.

The US now has over 8,500MW of cumulative installed solar electric capacity, enough to power more than 1.3 million average American homes.

Utility installations like Copper Mountain have more than doubled year-over-year as 318MW came online in the first quarter of 2013.

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