First Solar, the world's largest thin-film solar manufacturer, has purchased a 100% stake in a 20-megawatt development in Maryland.
The Maryland Solar Farm, as it's become known will be located in Hagerstown. The project was formerly owned by Maryland Solar LLC, a subsidiary of Beowulf Energy.
Construction is planned to commence in the summer, with a completion date set for the winter. The 20-megawatt power plant already has a 20-year power purchase agreement in place with FirstEnergy Corp. -- this deal was signed at the end of 2011.
When the Maryland Solar Farm becomes operational there will only be two other installations on the east coast larger than it. The facility will produce enough energy to power 2,700 Maryland homes, while displacing 23,00 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.
Speaking about the acquisition, Frank De Rosa, First Solar Senior Vice President for business development in the Americas said, We're excited about moving forward on this project, which is expected to provide 125 construction jobs."
Maryland has a renewable portfolio standard which calls for the state to generate 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2022. As of the end of 2011, Maryland was generating 910 MW of renewable energy -- roughly 6.7% of the state energy demand -- with solar accounting for only 37.6 MW.
Solar's share of the state's renewable energy portfolio will change immensely over the next decade. In order to meet its 2022 goal, Maryland will have to quadruple its current renewable energy capacity, growing it to 3,721 MW. The administration intends to have solar power lead this growth. Its plan will see solar move from the smallest renewable energy contributor in 2011 (37.6 MW) to the largest renewable energy source in 2022 (1,149 MW).
This is great news for companies like First Solar. Arguably the industry's shining star, it has taken the solar market by storm over the past five years. Just two days before the purchase of the Maryland Solar Farm, First Solar announced it had been hired to construct to construct NRG's 26 MW Avra Valley solar project in Arizona.
Despite having to deal with the challenge of diluted costs for solar panels, increasing competition from Chinese manufacturers, and an uncertain regulatory environment in the company's largest market, the United States, First Solar saw its sales grow to $2.8 billion in 2011, an increase of 8% compared to 2010.
Image credit: First Solar
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