The World’s Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity

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Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is the world’s largest solar power plant. 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors, all at 7ft high and 10ft wide, are focused at the top of a 450ft tall tower. The tower then turns water into steam to power turbines which produce energy.

This enormous solar plant, which is jointly owned by BrightSource Energy, Google, and NRG Energy, has been opened for business after a battle with legal tangles.

IVANPAH, CALIFORNIA, APRIL 02 2013: As seen from the top of the tower just below the boiler section, heliostats surrounding Tower 1 reflect sunlight toward the tower's top at the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility. Located in the Mojave Desert 40 miles southwest of Las Vegas, The Ivanpah Solar Power Facility is a solar thermal power project, currently under construction, with a planned capacity of 392 megawatts, enough to power approximately 140,000 houses. It will deploy 170,000 heliostat mirrors spread over 4,000 hectares, focusing solar energy on boilers located atop three solar power towers, generating steam to drive specially adapted steam turbines The project, developed by Bechtel, will cost $2.2 billion and be the largest solar farm in the world (photo Gilles Mingasson/Getty Images for Bechtel).

photo Gilles Mingasson/Getty Images for Bechtel

From the official news release:

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is now fully operational and able to supply California customers with electricity. The facility’s three 450ft towers will be able to produce up to 392 megawatts of solar power at its full capacity. This is enough electricity to supply 140,000 California homes with a sustainable, clean energy. Another plus to this is the 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is equal to 72,000 vehicles being removed from the roads.

This facility is spread across 5 square miles of federal land, near the California-Nevada border, and is mesmerizing in a way.


Author: Kirsten Cowart

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