Since May 2012, a giant solar farm has slowly started to harvest the sun's rays in California. Construction finished last month, and the farm — the world's largest — is now fully operational. It takes a photo from a NASA satellite to grasp how ridiculously huge this operation is.
According to NASA:
Nine million cadmium telluride solar modules now cover part of Carrizo Plain in southern California. The modules are part of Topaz Solar Farm, one of the largest photovoltaic power plants in the world. At 9.5 square miles (25.6 square kilometres), the facility is about one-third the size of Manhattan island, or the equivalent of 4,600 football fields.
To try and put that in perspective, here's a side-by-side comparison of Manhattan island and the Topaz plant at the same scale:
At full capacity, the Topaz facility produces 550-megawatts, enough electricity to power around 180,000 homes. To fully wean the U.S. off fossil fuels, then, we're going to need a hell of a lot of solar panels. [NASA Earth Observatory]