Solar power has the potential to improve the quality of lives for the billions of people in the world. Take 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors, each 7 feet high and 10 feet wide. Control them with computers to focus the Sun’s light to the top of 459-foot towers, where water is turned into steam to power turbines. Bingo: you have the world’s biggest solar power plant, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. Long-mired by regulatory issues and legal tangles, the enormous solar plant–jointly owned by NRG Energy, BrightSource Energy and Google–opened for business today.
Ivanpah Solar: Forefront of Technology
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, is asolar thermal power project in the California Mojave Desert, 40 miles (64 km) southwest of Las Vegas, with a planned gross capacity of 392 megawatts (MW). It deploys 170,000 heliostat mirrors focusing solar energyon boilers located on centralized solar power towers. The project attracted some controversy because of its location on desert habitat considered by wildlife officials and environmentalists to be important for the threatened desert tortoise. Unit 1 of the project was connected to the grid in September 2013 in an initial sync testing.The facility formally opened on February 13, 2014.
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