When the sun goes up across the Mojave Desert near California-Nevada, its rays now heat up a cluster of over 170,000 mirrors in the biggest solar thermal power plant worldwide.
In September, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System was introduced to feed the grid on 3,500 hectares of the federal territory.
Its mirrors tend to follow the arch of the sun, turning the light towards water boilers, producing high-pressure super-hot steam. Like a standard fossil fuel or nuclear energy station, that steam spins electric turbines. The net turbine capacity of Ivanpah – its highest usable potential at any time – is 377 megaW, sufficient to power approximately 140,000 households.
Challenges from environmental concerns to drastic price reductions for competing solar technologies have led to a failure to realize the potential of solar concentration thermal energy. But the delivery of the Ivanpah project marks a success for a fresh model of solar energy
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