Largest US Solar Concentrating Plant Turns on the Switch

The largest operating concentrating solar PV plant in the US is now generating electricity in New Mexico.

The 5 megawatt (MW) Hatch Solar Energy Center is owned and operated by NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE) and sells the electricity to El Paso Electric under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

The plant consists of 84, 60-kilowatt concentrating PV units made by Amonix, which incorporate dual-axis tracking to maximize energy production throughout the day.

Concentrating PV uses optics to focus large areas of sunlight onto small photovoltaic surfaces. Amonix says the systems generate more energy, more efficiently and at lower cost than traditional PV in sunny, dry climates. It has a smaller footprint than concentrating solar, which requires more land and needs water to operate.

NextEra is the largest wind developer in the US, and is now also building large solar plants. It recently purchased a 50% stake in the Desert Sunlight Project from First Solar, a 550 MW project that’s expected to be one of the world’s largest solar PV plants. 

And NextEra is building a 250 MW concentrating solar plant in California, Genesis Solar.

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