Largest Solar Farms in the U.S | SaveOnEnergy.com

Largest Solar Farms in the U.S

home with solar panels on the roof

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What is a solar farm?

A solar farm is a collection of solar panels that work together to collect solar energy, convert it into electricity, and use that electricity to power homes and businesses. Solar farms can vary in size, from smaller community solar projects that generate enough electricity for nearby homes, all the way to massive utility-scale solar farms producing enough power for thousands of households. 

As solar energy and residential solar panels have grown in popularity (and become more affordable) in recent years, companies and utilities are constructing large scale solar projects in the U.S. to meet consumers’ demand. Let’s explore how solar farms work and where you can find the largest solar farms in the U.S.

How solar farms work

There are a few factors that differentiate solar farms from home solar systems. For starters, solar farms are much larger and can produce enough power for multiple homes. Solar farms are also normally installed on the ground instead of rooftops, so these projects typically require a lot of land.

There are two types of solar farms: utility-scale solar farms and community solar farms. Here is how they are different.

Community solar farms

Community solar farms are a group of solar panels that generate electricity to power more than one home. For consumers who are interested in solar but live in an apartment, rent their home, or want a more affordable solar option, community solar farms can be one way to power a home with solar energy without paying the upfront cost of solar panels.

The average community solar project generates around 5 megawatts of electricity, making them a much smaller solar farm compared to utility-scale solar farms. Community solar farms also differ from utility solar farms because they are only able to send electricity to homes or businesses within a close range.

Utility solar farms

Utility solar farms are very large and generate enough electricity to meet the needs of thousands of homes and businesses. These solar farms produce solar energy and send it to electricity providers, which sell that power to consumers. 

These solar farms are often owned by the energy provider or local utility company. Sometimes they are owned by a third-party generator, which sells the power to your provider before it is passed along to you. Utility-scale solar farms normally offer solar power purchase agreements (PPAs), where companies agree to buy a certain amount of power from either the utility or the generator.

Because utility-scale solar farms are much bigger than community solar farms, all of the largest solar farms in the U.S. fall into this category.

Biggest solar farms in the U.S.

California produces almost 30% of the country’s solar power, outpacing any other state. For this reason, it’s not surprising that three of the nation’s top five solar farms are located in California. Arizona and Nevada are also big producers of solar power in the U.S. and double as homes to some of the country’s largest solar farms. 

The following are the top five largest solar farms in the U.S. based on capacity in megawatts (MW), beginning with the largest.

Solar Star, California

  • Capacity: 579 MW
  • Year built: 2015
  • Households powered: 255,000 homes

Solar Star is not only the biggest solar farm in the U.S., it is also the largest in the world. With approximately 1.7 million solar panels, Solar Star tops this list with the capacity to generate 579 MW of electricity. Solar Star is located in Rosamond, California. Since its completion, this solar farm has kept more than 570,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions out of the atmosphere.

Topaz Solar Farm, California

  • Capacity: 550 MW
  • Year built: 2015
  • Households powered: 160,000 homes 

Topaz Solar Farm is located in San Luis Obispo County, California and is the second-largest solar farm in the U.S. With a capacity of 550 MW, Topaz Solar Farm can generate enough electricity to meet the energy needs of 160,000 homes and keeps 377,000 tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere each year.

Ivanpah Solar, California

  • Capacity: 377 MW
  • Year built: 2014
  • Households powered: 140,000 homes

The third-largest solar farm in the U.S. is the Ivanpah Solar project, found at the base of Clark Mountain in California. This solar farm has more than 300,000 solar panels that can generate up to 377 MW of power. Ivanpah Solar can power 140,000 homes when it is operating at max capacity. To date, this solar farm has saved approximately 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

Agua Caliente Solar Project, Arizona

  • Capacity: 290 MW
  • Year built: 2014
  • Households powered: 100,000 homes

In Yuma County, Arizona, the Agua Caliente Solar Project spans across 2,400 acres with a generating capacity of 290 MW. This solar farm can power up to 100,000 homes and has the capability to reduce carbon emissions by 220,000 tons every year.

The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, Nevada

  • Capacity: 110 MW
  • Year built: 2015
  • Households powered: 75,000 homes

The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project rounds out our list as the fifth-largest solar farm in the U.S. Spread over 1,600 acres in Nye County, Nevada. This solar farm has a capacity of 110 MW, which could power 75,000 homes. The Crescent Dunes project can lower carbon emissions by almost 320,000 tons annually.

Community solar farms and utility solar farms could provide a way for you to power your home with solar energy. Whether you are interested in purchasing residential solar panels upfront or are searching for a more affordable option, SaveOnEnergy is here to help.