While almost all of the gigantic solar installations in the U.S. are being built out in the Southwest, a growing number of large-scale projects are heading back across the country like a solar jet stream. Most recently North Carolina-based Strata Solar said it would build a $250 million, 100 megawatt photovoltaic farm in Warsaw, N.C.
The project is one of the largest solar projects based in the U.S. Southeast (National Solar Group is building a 400 megawatt project in Florida) and proves, again, that utility-scale solar is not the exclusive province of the Southwest. Strata Solar's project is the largest planned for North Carolina, dwarfing the state’s largest PV farm, which is currently at 15.5 megawatts.
If the project is successful it could be a boon to the solar industry across the East Coast, showing the potential of solar energy throughout the region. However, the southeast is verdant, with quick-growing plants and trees and receives more rain than the Southwest, which is essentially desert. So the solar resource may not be quite as rich there, though still better than almost all of Europe.
“The addition of a solar farm of this magnitude solidifies North Carolina as a player in the national solar landscape,” said Markus Wilhelm, CEO of Strata Solar. “This project also extends beyond the state with significant implications across the East Coast, and represents another example of Strata Solar’s commitment to providing a wealth of clean energy to the country.”
It's just the latest new project for Strata Solar, which unveiled 12 new solar farms in North Carolina last year. The company, which hired more than 450 jobs last year, plans to triple its staff this year as it plans to build out 25 new solar farms.
The company is filing to build the 100 MW project now and could start building it as soon as the end of the year, according to SNL. In the meantime it will build what will be two of the state’s largest PV projects, the 20 megawatt Mount Olive solar farm and the 19.9 megawatt Railroad Farm 2.
At this point Strata Solar has not signed with any utilities to purchase the power from such a project. But the company is reportedly discussing the project with Duke Energy’s Progress Energy Carolinas.