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Largest Solar Roof in the U.S. Opens in Las Vegas

Jul 13, 2016 04:23 AM EDT

America's largest solar roof array now sits atop the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The extensive solar installation is made up of 26,000 individual photovoltaic panels that, at full capacity, can collectively provide enough energy to supply 25 percent of the electricity demands of the entire Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino operation.

In a press release, building owner MGM Resorts International claimed that the infrastructure produces "a combined 8.3 MW dc (6.5 MW ac) of electricity, a new national record for rooftop arrays.... The electricity produced is also equivalent to the average annual usage of 1,340 U.S. homes."

MGM Resorts entered into a 25-year agreement with NRG Energy, the owner and operator of the solar array. According to USA Today, NRG is a company that likes to see itself as a trailblazer in the U.S. renewable energy industry, although its core business is still reliant on selling electricity from coal, gas and nuclear power plants.

Following a troubled CEO changeover, NRG is working on recalibrating its renewable energy approach, which encompasses multiple operations including a network of charging stations for electric autos and a unit that does solar rooftop installations for homes. A recent piece in the New York Times has questioned whether green energy can turn a profit - with the conclusion that it can, but companies have yet to hit on the right strategy for the U.S. It remains to be seen whether NRG will be the one to do it.

Perhaps it can by focusing on markets such as Nevada. According to Fortune, Nevada is a state that has embraced clean energy, setting its sights on generating a quarter of its electricity from solar and geothermal power by 2025.

Nevada businesses appear to be following suit. Other major Las Vegas casinos are putting up their own solar installations, not only to forward the state's energy goals, but to lower their costs from electricity consumption.

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