What is Utility-Scale Solar? Big Power, Small Environmental Impact

what is utility-scale solar

What is Utility-Scale Solar

So, What is utility-scale solar? Well, when we think of power plants, we usually think of fossil fuels that contribute to harmful effects on our environment. However, did you know that there are actually solar-generated power plants that are only increasing in demand?

These are known as utility-scale solar modules, and Texas is quickly becoming one of the largest producers of widespread renewable energy. Here’s what you need to know about utility-scale solar power and how Texas is contributing to the cause. 

What is Utility-Scale Solar?

Utility-scale solar refers to expansive solar power plants that generate electricity for a wide area, typically for a utility grid. The utility grid proceeds to produce electricity for consumers. Electricity generated by solar power plants is usually sold to utility companies and other major power consumers via power purchase agreements.

Overall, increased demand for renewable energy has contributed to the widespread growth of utility-scale solar. The EIA estimates that it is currently the leading source of new electricity generation, with roughly around 39% new capacity. 

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Types of Utility-Scale Solar

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Power Plants

Otherwise known as “solar farms,” solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants refer to vast numbers of solar modules installed together in a large, confined space. The high amount of solar panels working together to generate electricity makes it act like an individual power plant. 

In reality, solar farms function very similarly to residential solar panel systems. Their key differences reside in their size, installation placement, and tracking technology. For example, while residential solar panels tend to be installed on a roof, these arrays are usually ground-mounted across acres of space.

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Power Plants

Concentrated solar power (CSP) power plants use specialized mirrors called helioscopes to reflect and direct sunlight onto a central collector. This collected energy is either used to generate electricity via a steam turbine or stored in a medium like molten salt for later use. 

What separates these renewable power plants from others is their use of heat energy as opposed to light energy utilized by PV plants. Thus, they are often referred to as “solar thermal plants,” “salt tower plants,” or “power towers.” 

Utility-Scale Solar in Texas

Although California is currently the United State’s leading energy producer in utility-scale solar capacity, Texas is quickly catching up. As of now, Texas still generates the higher amount of wind power in the nation. With these renewable energy accomplishments in mind, it isn’t expected to be long before Texas joins California’s lead in utility-scale solar energy. 

Have you been interested in going solar? Our experienced professionals at Sunshine Renewable Solutions are happy to help you! 

We’re a local Houston solar installer that will help you adopt/enjoy the benefits of solar array ownership.

Contact us to get a free solar estimate today!

What is Utility-Scale Solar