Westlands Solar Park (WSP) is California’s premier public-private master planned renewable energy infrastructure complex, and is trailblazing for California and the Central Valley, with master planned solar generation and infrastructure similar to the successful Tehachapi wind energy infrastructure.
The entire site of the WSP energy infrastructure complex is located within the Westlands Water District on “brownfield” agricultural land that has already been retired from full agricultural use or is part of the areas planned for land retirement. The retirement and conversion of the lands are supported by the environmental and agricultural community including active support from NRDC, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and the CA Farm Bureau. WSP will also free up additional water resources for the Central Valley as solar generation utilizes less water than agricultural production.
WSP’s phased development plan allows for partnership or independent development of the solar facilities, energy storage and transmission projects based on market demand over time. Once completed, the currently planned 2.7GW of solar generation from the Westlands Solar Park can power more than 750,000 homes and offsets more than 3.2 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere each year, while creating more than 800 jobs at the peak of construction.
The Westlands Solar Park study area comprises approximately 20,000 acres of agriculturally disturbed land intended for renewable development, and is located in the Westlands Water District primarily in Kings County.
Westlands Solar Park has been identified in the state’s Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETI) as ideal for solar power generation in excess of 5 GWs. The RETI created Westlands Solar Park as a competitive renewable energy zone and is regularly included in the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) renewable energy portfolio planning scenarios that influence the long-term procurement plans for utility agencies and the California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO) annual transmission planning process.
The initial pilot project reached commercial operation in 2016, and other Phase 1 projects are expected to begin operation in between 2019 and 2021. Mid- to later-term projects are planned for 2023 to 2024 operations.