SunEdison + Duke = Largest Solar PV Farm in U.S.

A deal between solar producer SunEdison and power company Duke Energy could produce the largest solar photovoltaic farm in the United States. Built and operated by SunEdison, the farm will be located in Davidson County, N.C., and, at 21.5 megawatts, is likely to be the largest photovoltaic array in the country at the time it is constructed. (OptiSolar plans a 550 MW PV plant, which it is targeting to start construction on in 2010). Duke Energy says it plans to buy all the electricity output from SunEdison’s plant.

SunEdison’s PV farm will cost an estimated $173 million, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. While its final location has yet to be determined, construction of the farm is to commence in 2009 with a minimum of 16 megawatts delivered by the end of 2010. The financial details of the power purchase agreement were not disclosed.

This partnership is the second large photovoltaic deal from Duke Energy in the last month. Earlier Duke announced plans to invest $100 million in a distributed solar roof program that will fund installation and operation of solar systems on residential and commercial buildings.

All of these solar moves from Duke are in preparation for North Carolina’s renewable portfolio standard, which requires utilities to get 12.5 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2021. Many states have similar, and often more ambitious, renewable portfolio standards, and many utilities, like PG&E, are finding that the demand for renewable power is far greater than the supply.