‘World’s largest’ thin-film solar plant begins operations

  • Catalina Solar
    The Catalina Solar Project is one of the largest thin-film PV plants. Image: EDF Renewables

The 143MW Catalina solar park, once billed as the world’s largest thin-film solar PV plant, has begun operations.

Developer EDF Renewable Energy and engineering contractor Bechtel have confirmed that the Californian project is now live.

“Projects like Catalina Solar underscore the meaningful role that stable policy at the national and state levels - specifically the Federal Investment Tax Credit and the California Renewable Portfolio Standard - can play in enhancing our nation’s long-term energy security,” said Ryan Pfaff, executive vice president, EDF Renewable Energy (EDF-RE).

The plant uses 82MW of Solar Frontier CIGS panels and 61MW of First Solar modules.

“Catalina Solar consists of over 1.1 million solar PV panels and is estimated to offset 250,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually,” said Mark Tholke, vice president West Region for EDF-RE. “The project has been an important source of direct and indirect economic activity in Kern County, including over 500 workers on-site during construction.”

EDF-RE sold the 364-hectares development to a consortium of GE Energy Financial Services, MetLife, Union Bank and Citi at the turn of the year. The company will continue to manage maintenance and operations at the site.

"The completion of this project on behalf of EDF-RE will help make solar more cost competitive with other sources of energy," said Toby Seay, president of Bechtel's communications, renewables, and transmission business line. "The build of facilities like Catalina will help spur innovation around solar technologies and strengthen our use of clean, renewable power."

Power from the site will be sold to San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement. California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires utilities to generate 33% of their power from renewable energy by 2020.

“EDF-RE has been a great partner, working hard to get both the Catalina Solar and the Pacific Wind projects operational,” said Matt Burkhart, vice president of electric and fuel procurement, SDG&E.  “Our commitment to helping get viable renewable resources developed has produced great results with projects like these that are contributing to meeting California’s aggressive renewable goals."

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