The world’s largest solar thermal plant, Ivanpah, reached a major milestone this month as it achieved its first “flux”. Over 1000 heliostats (plane mirrors that reflect sunlight towards a predetermined target) focused on to the plant’s solar receiver and heated water inside a boiler to below the point of steam generation, proving the plant is ready to enter commercial operation. Located in Ivanpah Dry Lake, California, the solar thermal power plant is expected to offset millions of tons of carbon emission.
The 377 MW Ivanpah project is owned by NRG Energy, Google and BrightSource Energy and is being constructed by Bechtel Corporation. The plant uses more than 300,000 mirrors to direct the sun’s energy toward three centrally positioned towers and produces enough electricity to power 140,000 U.S. homes. Ivanpah’s Unit 1 is nearly 90 percent complete, while Units 2 and 3 are more than 70 percent complete, according to the project’s official site.
The next phase of the project will include testing steam pressure and placing additional flux on the boilers. In preparation for the official start of operation, the team will test the system by running steam through the pipes which will clear any debris and prevent eventual damages of the steam turbines, said Gil Kroyzer, VP Modeling & Solar Field Design, BrightSource Energy, the technology provider for the project.
Photos from BrightSource Energy Flickr Page