Lucy Wang

Ivanpah: The World's Largest Solar Thermal Plant Just Switched Online for the First Time

by , 02/16/14



ivanpah, solar thermal plant, NRG Energy, Google, BrightSource Energy, clean energy, solar power, solar energy, heliostat, mojave desert, natural gas fire plants, california electric grid, california electricity, world's largest solar thermal plant

Jointly created between NRG Energy, Inc., Google, and BrightSource Energy, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is the largest solar project of its kind and accounts for nearly a third of all solar thermal energy produced in the U.S. Stretching across five square miles in the Mojave desert, the massive solar project consists of three 40-story tall towers surrounded by 350,000 garage door-sized mirrors. Each reflective heliostat focuses solar energy onto the boilers atop the towers to create steam to power turbines.

The Ivanpah plant, however, has come under fire by various critics. According to the Wall Street Journal, the clean energy generated by Ivanpah will cost about four times as much as the electricity generated by conventional natural gas-fired plants. Ivanpah will also produce less electricity than conventional sources and require more land to operate. Animal activists have also been alarmed by the number of birds that have been scorched and killed around the solar plant towers, which can generate temperatures as high as 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Via Gizmodo

Images via BrightSource Energy Flickr

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7 Comments

  1. mr.green April 4, 2014 at 12:33 am

    Birds flying into the light should be a easy fix . Airports have anti-bird technology . I assume farm corps have some sort of safe guard technology. Netting , high frequencies , falcons

  2. Chris Riley February 28, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Can limit the amount of space they are using if they flipped and modified Hubble telescope to blast sunlight onto the direct area. Plus they would need thicker solar panels.

  3. abhisheksolar February 19, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Its really a big achievement. Plans must be implemented to convert current present coal thermal plants to solar thermal plants.

  4. Louise Mercier February 16, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Poor birds probably think it IS a source of H20 – what a mirage that turned out to be!

  5. David Forbus February 15, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    A coal plant has three basic costs, the cost to build, the cost to maintain and the cost of the fuel it burns. A plant like this has only two, the cost to build and the cost to maintain. There is no cost for fuel. I’m dubious of claims that a plant like this costs too much. They will have to explain why it costs too much when the fuel is free.

    I seriously doubt the land this takes up is any comparison to the land that is strip mined for coal.

  6. walter cohen February 15, 2014 at 7:37 am

    While the plant itself may kill more wildlife than a conventional coal or natural gas fired plant, when you take into account what the enviromental damage done by coal mining and fracking I wonder if this project is actually much more enviromentally friendly?
    For intance, nearly 200,000 people have been ithout drinking water for about month nlow because of the spill of toxic chemicals used to clean coal into a river near Charleston, WV. I’m pleased the the united States is pursuing this technology given the energy countries like China and India are investing in solar and alternative energy cources.

  7. Capucine Altier February 13, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Well it looks like one super waste of energy and resources for the project that won’t generate enough for a good price and the rest with animals and efficiency sucks a lot… what about some Teslas inventions

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