Top Wind, Solar Projects Get High Marks

Two big winners in the world of renewable energy  were announced recently at the Renewable Energy World Conference and Expo which took place in Tampa, Florida. The Copper Mountain Solar project won bragging rights as “Solar Project Of The Year” while Greensburg Wind Farm walked away with “Wind Project Of The Year”.

Copper Mountain Solar, operated by Sempra Generation, can already lay claim as the largest photovoltaic solar plant in the U.S. Now, after beating out hundreds of competitors, the massive complex can claim to be the best as well. The 48-megawatt (MW) solar farm is located in Boulder City, Nev, just 40 miles southeast of Las Vegas.  Construction, at its peak, involved 350 workers installing 775,000 solar panels across 380 acres of desert land. Since the site was completed in late 2010 it has been generating enough renewable electricity to power about 14,000 average homes, according to Sempra.

image via Sempra Generation

We’ll just have to see how long Copper Mountain can hold onto that title. Sempra Generation has plans in the works to begin construction of a new facility outside of Phoenix, AZ later this year. The first phase of that project, called the Mesquite Solar complex,  will bring 150 MW online and, several phases later, grow to around 700 MW of total output. Based on Sempra’s calculations, that’s enough solar electricity to power about 204,000 average homes.

Greensburg Wind Farm’s award is as much a victory for the town of Greensburg as it is for the wind farm itself. In May 2007 a violent tornado decimated Greensburg, destroying 95% of the town. Citizens decided to rebuild as “the greenest town in America.” Building the wind farm was a big part of that movement.

Greensburg Wind Farm

image via Greensburg Greentown

Companies and individuals all across the US helped to fund the project by purchasing carbon offsets. In return, the parties received a share of the project’s long-term verified greenhouse gas reductions. Green Mountain Coffee and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream were among some of the more recognizable supporters. The story of the town’s valiant rise from the rubble, which we covered here, is filled with instances of people overcoming extreme challenges to come back stronger, and greener, than before. It’s good to see the people of Greensburg’s efforts getting some recognition.

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