Utility-scale solar is typically a larger solar power generation installation that serves as an additional central power generation source for an electric utility in meeting customers’ electric energy needs. Several definitions of utility-scale solar exist with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory using five megawatt capacity or larger as the threshold.
A typical benefit of utility-scale solar capacity is that its power generation profile is similar to summer residential/commercial load curves (energy is generated when it’s most needed). This allows utility-scale solar power generation to served daily peaking needs in summer.
Utility-scale solar plants can be sized to meet a more local load and located closer to the load center, thereby eliminating transmission capital costs and, if already constructed, transmission losses. Also, utility-scale solar production output can serve to balance wind capacity that is often lacking on peak summer days (the wind is not blowing).
Although part of our strategic resource plan, NPPD has no immediate plans to add utility scale solar to its generation resource mix.