In 2012, U.S. solar installations surged by 76% compared to 2011—representing an estimated market value of $11.5 billion—and the clear standout was utility-scale solar. Among the five super-sized solar projects that came online last year, two are from California – the Antelope Valley Solar Ranch in Los Angeles County, and the California Valley Solar Ranch in San Luis Obispo.
For the Antelope Valley Solar Ranch, the first phase it is complete. Once fully operational, the Solar Ranch’s annual capacity will more than double to 230 MW – supplying enough energy to the grid to power about 75,000 homes. The project – which employed about 900 workers at construction peak – uses approximately 30,000 metric tons of American steel. When operational later this year, the Antelope Valley Solar Ranch facility will displace nearly 250,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually – equivalent to the emissions of at least 60,000 vehicles. The project is projected to serve the energy needs of 42,700 Southern California homes every year.