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For years, California has been in a state of drought â€“ a result of sparse rainfall coupled with intricate irrigation systems and the inherent difficulties in supplying over 35 million people with water. A budget crisis and political unrest have recently added toÂ the states problems but now, there is a bright spot (literally) on the horizon. A proposal by Westside Holdings in California has initiated the construction of the largest solar panel field in the country: the Westlands Solar Park in the San Joaquin Valley.
Westlands will reuse 30,000 acres of land contaminated with salt and other pollutants from years of irrigation and over-planting for a solar panel field capable of producing up to 5,000 megawatts of clean energy. As the largest current solar panel project underway, the field promises enough energy to power almost 4 million homes. By contrast, Spain currently claims the largest functioning solar panel field in the world, with a 60-megawatt capacity.
Phase one of the Westlands project will install solar panels on 9,000 acres of land leased by farmers to Westside Holdings and will generate 600-1,000 megawatts of renewable energy, to be transmitted on existing infrastructure. To complete the project, billions of private and public dollars will have to be invested in both construction and infrastructure development, ultimately creating thousands of jobs.