This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

September 18, 2002

California Trends Toward Half-Megawatt Solar Power Systems

The U.S. solar power industry, which once prided itself on 5-kilowatt installations, is seeing an encouraging trend toward projects closer to a half-megawatt (500-kilowatts) in peak capacity. Although such large installations have cropped up in a number of states, recent news of large solar power projects has all come from California.

Among the recent announcements is a 520-kilowatt solar power system now being installed at a wastewater treatment plant in Oroville by Sun Power and Geothermal Energy. The company broke ground on the project in late August; when the system goes online in November, it will provide enough electricity to treat 80 percent of the wastewater at the facility. See the company's press release.

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. is following suit with a 501-kilowatt system at its headquarters facilities in Torrance. PowerLight Corporation will provide the solar power system; Think Energy, Inc. brought the two companies together. The system will be installed this fall. See the September 16th press release on the Think Energy Web site.

Meanwhile, the City of San Francisco is planning to install two large solar power systems: a 688-kilowatt system at the Moscone Center (a convention center) and a 600-kilowatt system at the city's Southeast wastewater treatment plant. Those details are included on page 7 of the Executive Summary for the city's Electricity Resource Plan, which also includes energy efficiency measures and plans to encourage the use of distributed energy resources. See the city's Electricity Resource Plan, released in late August, on the San Francisco Department of the Environment Web site.