Sacramento Electrical Power Utility Makes Solar History with Photovoltaic Solutions from DuPont

Panels Provide Consistent Power Output for More Than a Quarter Century at World’s First Utility-Scale Plant Background

The state of California has played a central role in developments in solar power. A combination of high levels of sunlight, pro-solar government initiatives and an emphasis on innovation has paved the way for a number of important breakthroughs in the history of solar energy.

For pioneers exploring a new land or entering a nascent industry, there are always challenges. For the engineering team at SMUD, leading the way in 1984 with the world’s first utility-scale solar installation, material selections had to be made that would have implications many years into the future. What type of solar panels? What type of system design? The wrong decision could have derailed the solar program, and prevented PV1 from achieving its expected lifespan. Another consideration was the weather variation in Rancho Seco.

In the decades following the initial installation, the performance of the panels demonstrated exceptional durability, well within a typical powerloss warranty performance range of less than 1% per year.