The largest solar plant in the US midwest is in under construction, and it will be built right next to a wind farm.
Combining wind and solar in an interconnected system makes renewable energy more effectively absorbed into the transmission grid, allowing the energy to be more easily dispatched, and
helps mitigate the effect of intermittency of wind and solar, since they peak at different times of day.
Last year, GWS Technologies (GreenWindSolar) said it started construction on a combined solar and wind plant on 1500 acres in Arizona.
Invenergy, which claims to be the largest independent wind
generation company in the US, will build the Grand Ridge Solar plant adjacent to its Grand Ridge wind farm in Illinois.
General Electric, which supplied the wind turbines for the 211 megawatt (MW) wind farm, will also supply 23 MW of thin-film solar panels for the 160-acre solar park, to be completed in mid-2012.
GE says that adding solar to just 10% of its global wind turbine installed base would sell out its 400 MW solar panel factory in Colorado for six years. The factory, which opens this year, will be the largest solar manufacturing facility in the US at 400,000 square feet.
GE says its installed 27 gigawatts of wind turbines around the world since 2002.
"Invenergy again has established itself as a market leader by bringing its development capabilities to both wind and solar projects," says Victor Abate, vice president of GE's Renewable Energy business. "Expertise in multiple technologies is the future of the renewable energy landscape."
In addition to supplying thin film solar panels to Grand Ridge Solar, GE also will supply packaged inverter skids that include Brilliance inverters, transformers and re-combiners, as well as GE SunIQ plant controls, which enhance grid integration capability.
GE says the solar panels produced at the new Colorado factory will be more efficient, lighter and larger than other thin-film panels. Making them lighter allows for easier installation and facilitates their use on commercial rooftop systems, and larger panels reduce the amount of racking and electrical components needed, which lowers the total system cost.
Invenergy, based in Chicago, owns and operates large-scale renewable energy plants in North America and Europe, has over 6700 MW of renewable energy projects in its portfolio.