The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today

The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today

Take 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors, each 2m high and 3m wide. Control them with computers to focus the sun's light to the top of 140m 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.

From the official news release:

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is now operational and delivering solar electricity to California customers. At full capacity, the facility's trio of 450-foot high towers produces a gross total of 392 megawatts (MW) of solar power, enough electricity to provide 140,000 California homes with clean energy and avoid 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, equal to removing 72,000 vehicles off the road.

Sprawling across a staggering 13sqkm of government land near the California-Nevada border, it looks goddamn beautiful. Just look at these amazing images.:

The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today
The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today
The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today
The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today
The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today
The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today
The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today
The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today
The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today
The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today
The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today
The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today
The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today
The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today
The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today
The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today
The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today
The World's Largest Solar Plant Started Creating Electricity Today

Pictures: BrightSource Energy


Comments

    Fantastic, a shame no Australian government would have the foresight to build something like this.

      We are, near Dubbo NSW - its huge but it's privately owned.

      Actually you're wrong there. Alinta Energy are proceeding with a full feasibility study of two years duration for a solar thermal plant & Hybrid options at Alinta's Northern Power Stations and Playford B Power Station at Port Augusta in South Australia, announced in January 2014. This is with some assistance from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and South Australia's Enterprise Zone Fund. You're half correct though, as originally the govt agencies knocked back applications for funding assistance in July last year.

    I'm confused. Isn't this meant to be in Vegas?

      Sprawling across a staggering 13sqkm of government land near the California-Nevada border
      Close enough

        I missed that.

        Just making a New Vegas reference is all. I always blew that f*cker up.

    We do, not as big but still big
    http://www.abc.net.au/milduraswanhill/topics/environment/alternative-energy/solar-energy/?page=1

    If the mirrors were solar panels, would you get double the bang for ya buck?

      One is designed to reflect light. The other is designed to absorb it. So, probably not. Also, the requirements for aligning solar panels (make panel face sun squarely) don't match those of a mirror (maintain angle so light is reflected to tower) so the optimal positioning is different.

      All that said, a solar panel doesn't absorb all wavelengths of light, only some of them, so in theory you could design a panel that acted as a mirror for all the wavelengths that were not absorbed. I suspect the need for a different angle would negate any efficiency gains, however.

    What a colossal footprint just to power a couple hundred thou homes. crazy just crazy sustainable renewable sick joke, would employ a shitload of highly paid cleaners but, especially after a dust storm, well done agenda 21 we are going to have many monoliths down the track to lay witness to mans complete & utter stupidity, ridiculousness in the extreme sums it best.

      And how big is the footprint (and employee numbers, transport costs etc) required for a mine to produce coal/gas/oil/uranium to power the equivalent non renewable energy?

        Hopefully big enough to bury all the millions of panels once they reach the proverbial use by date mate.

      If it's built in a desert, with no other functional use for the land, why would it matter how big the footprint it?

      Yofus, you don't have the faintest idea what you're talking about. Ivanpah = 13sq km for 392MW. Smaller in area than a typical coal fired conventional station of the same capacity but without the pollution, long term ash storage issues, water consumption etc. Australia has desert, you moron, and it's empty. Go and see it. Then, see if you can figure out where these will be built in Australia? And make no mistake, the first Australian solar thermal plants will almost certainly start to appear within the next 10 years or thereabouts.

    Hi, I have been designing and building solar plants, both PV and Thermal, for several years and on several continents which include countries such as India, Spain, France (Reunion Island), the Emirates, and the UK. In total I have been responsible for about 300 MW worth of built solar energy plants.
    Firstly lets consider the broad view of energy production:
    1. Coal – bad polluter – ask anyone in Beijing.
    2. Nukes – gives rise to nuclear arms development and hell of a job to dispose of waste – otherwise an effective non polluting technology as long as it don’t go bang pop when you’re not looking or when hit by an act of god – ask Russia , USA and Japan (Fukujimmy).
    3. Wind – So it works if you like mechanical contraptions that are mega expensive to repair and big bucks up front to build. Also not great to look at – personal view – esp in nature conservation areas. Lastly a hazard for aeronautical and marine radar systems, and birdies.
    4. Oil – please let’s not get into this one – we’re having a sensible discussion here.
    5. Solar – yes. Works in space without any fuel and runs 24/7. So when we’ve done with murdering and raping this poor planet and trek into space (sorry I wont be there with you cos I need a place to walk my dog) this will be the only way to go.
    6. Solar Thermal (T) or Photovoltaic (PV)??? Well both work and protagonists for each declare that one’s superiority. My own view is to go the hybrid route (PV+T) – That is a PV panel exposed on top with a fluid under it to use the absorbed heat and to cool the PV panel which loose efficiency with increasing temperature. So, a marriage made in heaven, you might say? And the answer is, Yes.
    I could ramble on quite a bit, but will stop here, hoping that I may have extended debate in a useful direction – Kind regards – duncan mcgregor CEnv, CEng, Fimmm, Fice (UK).

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