I wanted to launch the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Quadricopter to get a better view, but conditions at the Antelope Valley location were always very windy. After all, the 140 MegaWatt (MW) Pacific Wind Project of EDF Renewable Energy, formerly enXco, is located just north of AVSR1. Much to my dismay, I’ve found the conditions at most other 25 MegaWatt and larger photovoltaic (PV) projects to be too windy for quadricopter operations.
Surveying AVSR1, the rather large hill to the southeast of the project caught my attention. When I noticed what looked like a cell tower at the top of the hill, I thought there must be a way to service the tower. Investigating further, I discovered the hill had a name, the Fairmont Butte. The Fairmont Butte Summit had been climbed or hiked according to a 2009 Condition Report at MountainZone.com. Coupled with various topographic maps, the plan to hike the Fairmont Butte for an elevated AVSR1 photo opportunity was hatched.
When I hiked down the dirt 160th St W from Lancaster Road on Saturday, July 6, 2013, the temperature was a hot 98°F (36.7°C) with winds gusting up to 36 miles per hour (57.9 kilometers per hour). I could not hear myself think over the wind, and it fed my perhaps irrational fears of contracting Valley Fever per “Uh Oh: Valley Fever Outbreak Linked to Solar Development” by Chris Clarke for KCET ReWire.
About half way to the butte, 160th St W may have switched over to an access road. I had tried to contact the likely property owner before attempting the hike without success, so I erred on the side of asking for forgiveness. Hiking up the 3,130 foot (954.02 meter) Fairmont Butte was easy although there was no trail as had been reported.
At the top of the butte, a walking trail ran along the ridge from the southwest to the northeast. As I began taking photos, I stumbled upon the Los Angeles County Survey System Triangulation Station for Lake Hughes Fairmont.
AVSR1 would appear to have severe problems with shading on days with cumulus clouds per the photo below. First Solar does not use module level power optimizers as far as I know. Will string level optimization be enough to prevent extreme power losses from the 230 MW photovoltaic plant on cloudy days?