Exclusive AV Solar Ranch One (AVSR1) Photos from the Fairmont Butte

[Lancaster, California USA]

Hiking for solar.

From Farimont Butte

After the Tensions high at AV Solar Ranch One post when I was harassed by First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) security while taking photos of the AVSR1 230 MegaWatt (AC) project from a public road, I contemplated crossing the T on AVSR1.

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.

From Farimont Butte

Of course, I considered an aerial survey via plane (Solar Barnstorming the Carrizo Plain) or helicopter (Abengoa Solar Solana Generating Station Sortie) but that is the most expensive approach.

From Farimont Butte

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.

From Farimont Butte

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.

From Farimont Butte

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.

From Farimont Butte

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.

From Farimont Butte

Besides AVSR1, the 66 MW (AC) Alpine Solar project of NRG Solar, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NRG), was also visible to the northwest as shown below.

From Farimont Butte
From Farimont Butte

Well, the cell tower I had seen turned out to be a trigonometrical station.

From Farimont Butte

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?

From Farimont Butte

One comment

  1. If you think that the dust clouds produced by A.V. Solar are not dangerous to breath you are incredibly under-educated. These lands have been unplowed farm lands for 50 years. Then, of course, there are the “palatives” that First Solar has admitted to using for “dust abatement”. What is in the palatives?
    California is in the midst of a drought! The western end of the A.V. is supplied by a common aquifer. What has been the impact on the water supply?
    Why, knowing that the prevailing wind is from the west, did these projects start west of Lancaster/Palmdale rather than east of this populated area? Maybe the Dept. of Energy decided 10 years ago to depopulate this valley so there would be no political opposition to either solar or wind turbine instalation?
    Why is it that a megawatt produced by First Solar costs 43 times what nuclear power cost?
    If a megawatt is generated in the A.V., how much power is actually delivered to L.A.?
    Does anyone really think the truth has been told about these projects?

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