The world's largest solar plant is now in operation

Solar Panels

The Topaz solar panel plant is now online and is delivering power to California.

The world's largest solar power plant has just come online in the United States and it is called Topaz.

It's located in California's San Luis Obispo County, which from the images looks to be in the middle of some kind of desert.

Topaz came online recently after completing its last 40-megawatt phase, making it America's first 500-plus megawatt solar farm and the current largest online plant on the planet.

How big is it exactly?

Well, the plant consists of nine million solar panels that are laid out across nine and a half square miles of land.

First Solar were the company behind the project which cost a staggering $2.5 billion to fund. The first panels started being installed two years ago and the whole structure wasn't even supposed to be completed until next year at the earliest.

According to io9, it's hoped that from absorbing the sun's light Topaz will produce 550-megawatts of energy. To put that into context, that much energy could easily power 160,000 Californian homes for a year.

For the time being Topaz holds the record being the world's largest, but it won't hold this record for very long. A plant called the Solar Star will overtake Topaz when it becomes fully operational at some point next year.

The Solar Star, also situated in California, will generate 575-megawatts of energy each year. Both solar farms will help California get closer to their goal of generating 33% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.