New SAT Reading Practice Test 42: Paired Passages—Solar Farming

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Paired Passages—Solar Farming

Passage 1

The largest solar farm in the world, known as
Topaz, opened in late 2014. The plant, which cost
$2.5 billion dollars to build, generates a whopping
550 megawatts of power. To put this number into
05perspective, this amount of power will be used to
supply 160,000 homes. This switch from fossil fuels
to solar power will save the environment exposure
to approximately 377,000 tons of carbon dioxide
emissions per year, which is the equivalent of
10retiring 73,000 cars.
The benefits of constructing such a large-scale
solar farm are not only environmental. There
are also significant economic benefits. Over 400
construction jobs were added to the area during
15the construction phase. $192 million in income
was pumped into the local economy as a result.
Economic benefits haven't stopped since the plant
opened. Local energy suppliers are now able to
enjoy $52 million in economic output.
20Located in San Luis Obispo County in
California, the area where Topaz was built is part
of California's Carrizo Plain. The plain is an area
of native grassland northwest of Los Angeles. The
land on which the plant sits was used as farmland
25in the past. Because of this, no new land distur-
bance was required in order to complete this large
project. The land was no longer suitable for farming
due to irrigation practices that stripped the soil
of its nutrients. The 4,700 private acres provided
30the perfect setting for a solar plant, meeting the
developer's standards for low-impact development,
which was a priority considering the site's proxim-
ity to the Carrizo Plain National Monument, a
protected area home to native species and plants.
35The plant's setup includes 460 panels mounted
on steel support posts. The sunlight taken in by
these panels is fed to a power conversion stations.
Each panel has its own conversion station. Made up
of two inverters and a transformer, the conversion
40stations are needed to make the power usable. The
power is then sent to a substation that transforms
it from 35.5 kilovolts to the standard 230 kilovolts.
The Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)
built a new switching station next to the solar farm.
45It is here that the power is looped into the grid that
supplies neighboring areas.
Topaz will only remain the world's largest solar
farm for a short period of time. The plant's owner,
First Solar, is currently developing an even larger
50plant, also in California.

Passage 2

With more and more large-scale solar farms
being developed in the sunny southwestern United
States, researchers and conservationists alike are
beginning to notice surprising environmental
55effects. While solar energy is known for its positive
environmental impacts, officials at the National Fish
and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory have come to rec-
ognize one of its significant downsides: Some spe-
cies of birds that live in close proximity to large solar
60plants are dying off, including endangered birds.
A recent federal investigation recovered
233 birds that had been killed as a direct result of
solar plants. Researchers believe that some of the
affected birds have mistaken the large, reflective
65areas of the solar panels for bodies of water. This
is a phenomenon referred to by scientists as "lake
effect." The birds are drawn to what they assume to
be water. They home in on the area and slam into
the panels with great force. It is thought that
70the insects that birds eat fall victim to "lake effect"
as well, leading the birds into the panels.
Researchers estimate that between 1,000 and
28,000 birds are killed as a result of harvesting
solar energy. The number of birds affected by
75wind farming is much greater, ranging from
140,000 to 328,000. Coal-fired electricity has the larg-
est negative effect on birds, killing nearly 8 million
a year. These numbers make solar farming seem
like the best option. However, conservationists
80are quick to point out that the areas where solar is
expected to boom between 2015 and 2020 are home
to some of the rarest birds in the United States. This
could put specific bird species at risk of extinction.
There exists a state mandate in California that
8520 percent of all electricity sold must be renew-
able by the year 2017. This has been one driving
force behind the rapid development of huge solar
farms. The industry, which is expecting to boom as
a result of this shift to renewable energy, is facing
90newly filed lawsuits by conservationist groups,
citing the negative impact on wildlife. These
lawsuits could prolong the approval process for the
planned solar developments across the Southwest.

1. The central idea of Passage 1 is that solar farms

  • A. are an accepted form of generating energy because of their benefits.
  • B. were first thought impractical ways to generate energy.
  • C. help to improve the environment.
  • D. need large amounts of land to be developed.

2. In Passage 2, which choice best reflects the author's viewpoint?

  • A. Using solar farms is the most viable way to create energy.
  • B. More birds are endangered by wind farms than solar farming.
  • C. Solar farms may not be as friendly to the environment as many people believe.
  • D. Scientists need to find ways to discourage "lake effect" caused by solar farms.

3. Passage 1 most strongly suggests that which of the following is true?

  • A. Solar farms will most likely only be built in the state of California.
  • B. The developer of Topaz is respectful of the environment.
  • C. Not many studies have been done on the impact of solar farms on the environment.
  • D. The consumption of energy continues to grow greater each year.

4. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 6-10 ("This switch … cars")
  • B. Lines 13-15 ("Over 400 … phase")
  • C. Lines 29-34 ("The 4,700 … and plants")
  • D. Lines 47-48 ("Topaz will … of time")

5. Passage 2 most strongly suggests that which of the following is true?

  • A. Wind farms do less harm to the environment than solar farms.
  • B. There are ways to create energy that do not harm wildlife.
  • C. The life of solar farms will be short-lived because of their cost.
  • D. Birds can be easily confused by man-made structures.

6. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 63-65 ("Researchers … of water")
  • B. Lines 74-76 ("The number … 328,000")
  • C. Lines 84-86 ("There exists … 2017")
  • D. Lines 91-93 ("These lawsuits … Southwest")

7. What is the main difference between the purpose of Passage 1 and the purpose of Passage 2?

  • A. Passage 1 aims to convince readers that solar farming will be the primary form of developing energy in the future, while Passage 2 aims to show the limited benefits of solar farms.
  • B. The purpose of Passage 1 is to show the many benefits of solar farming, while Passage 2 concentrates on the negative side effects of solar farming.
  • C. Passage 1 discusses current research into the benefits of solar farms, while Passage 2 relates why solar farms are not practical in all locations.
  • D. The purpose of Passage 1 is to show that producing energy is vital to the economy, while Passage 2 explains the ways in which solar farms can be developed.

8. As used in line 16 of Passage 1, "pumped" most nearly means

  • A. drained.
  • B. encouraged.
  • C. extracted.
  • D. forced.

9. As used in lines 57-58 of Passage 2, "recognize" most nearly means

  • A. appreciate.
  • B. credit.
  • C. distinguish.
  • D. realize.

10. In Passage 2, the author's use of "surprising" (line 54) implies that

  • A. solar farms require a lengthy development period.
  • B. most people would be shocked by the size of solar farms.
  • C. solar energy panels look strange to most people.
  • D. most people think that solar energy is very beneficial.

11. Both passages support which generalization about solar farms?

  • A. Solar farms have effects that disturb some conservationists.
  • B. Solar farms are an accepted way to generate electricity.
  • C. All of the ways to create energy have negative side effects.
  • D. Finding sites for solar farms is difficult to accomplish.