The world’s largest solar electricity project, built on a wind-swept, dry lake bed, has just become operational last week. Though it started producing electricity last year, the plant formally commenced operations on Thursday, February 13th, 2014,. The Ivanpah (EYE’-ven-pah) Solar Electric Generating System, is located in the Mojave Desert on about 5 square miles of land near the California-Nevada border, about 45 miles southwest of Las Vegas, off the busy Interstate 15.
The company is owned by NRG Energy Inc., Google Inc. and BrightSource Energy. The complex has three electricity generating units and can produce nearly 400 megawatts of power – enough to power 140,000 homes. About 350,000 computer-controlled, garage door- sized mirrors reflect sunlight to boilers atop 459-foot towers. The heat from the sun boils water in the boilers’ tubes and make steam, which in turn drives turbines to create electricity.
This is good news for California, which has a mandate to obtain a third of its electricity from solar and other renewable sources by 2020. Solar power generation is good for the economy in other respects too as the solar industry employs more than 140,000 workers in about 6,100 companies, with employment increasing nearly 20 percent since the fall of 2012.
At full capacity, the facility’s trio of power towers produce a gross total of 392 megawatts (MW) of clean energy, accounting for nearly 30 percent of all solar thermal energy currently operational in the US. From an environmental perspective it avoids 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. This equals to removing 72,000 vehicles off the road.
You can view more information from the company’s website at