Friday, February 28, 2014

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System Comes Online

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, solar power, solar electric, California, alternative energy, green energy, renewable energy, energy, electricity A windy stretch of the Mojave Desert once roamed by tortoises and coyotes has been transformed by hundreds of thousands of mirrors into the largest solar power plant of its type in the world.
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The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, sprawling across roughly 5 square miles (13 sq. kilometers) of federal land near the California-Nevada border, formally opened on February 13, after years of regulatory and legal tangles ranging from relocating protected tortoises to assessing the impact on Mojave milkweed and other plants.


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This is a milestone for a growing industry that is testing the balance between wilderness conservation and the pursuit of green energy across the American West.



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The $2.2 billion complex of three generating units, owned by NRG Energy Inc, Google Inc. and BrightSource Energy, can produce nearly 400 megawatts - enough power for 140,000 homes. It began making electricity last year.











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The Ivanpah site, about 45 miles (75 kilometers) southwest of Las Vegas, has virtually unbroken sunshine most of the year and is near transmission lines that carry power to consumers.

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Larger projects are on the way, but for now, Ivanpah is being described as a marker for the United States' emerging solar industry.

While solar power accounts for less than 1 percent of the nation's power output, thousands of projects from large, utility-scale plants to small production sites are under construction or being planned, particularly across the sun-drenched Southwest.



Using technology known as solar-thermal, nearly 350,000 computer-controlled mirrors roughly the size of a garage door reflect sunlight to boilers atop 459-foot (140-meter) towers.


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The sun's power is used to heat water in the boilers' tubes and make steam, which drives turbines to create electricity.

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Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, solar power, solar electric, California, alternative energy, green energy, renewable energy, energy, electricityThe plant can be a startling sight for drivers heading toward Las Vegas along busy Interstate 15. Amid miles of rock and scrub, its vast array of mirrors creates the image of an ethereal lake shimmering atop the desert floor. 



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Google announced in 2011 that it would invest $168 million in the project. As part of its financing, BrightSource also lined up $1.6 billion in loans guaranteed by the US Energy Department, while San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp. constructed the facility.


Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, solar power, solar electric, California, alternative energy, green energy, renewable energy, energy, electricity

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