World’s largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant delivers electricity to California

The world’s largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant of its type is now delivering electricity to California customers.

“Ivanpah is utilizing dry-cooling technology that dramatically reduces water usage,” Moniz said. “In fact, this entire facility will use roughly the same amount of water as two holes at the nearby golf course.”

At full capacity, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System produces a gross total of 392 megawatts of solar power, enough electricity for 140,000 California homes, and would avoid 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, equal to removing 72,000 vehicles off the road.

Ivanpah, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of all solar thermal energy currently operational in the United States, is for now the largest solar project in the world. The complex is sprawling across roughly 3,500 acres of land near the California- Nevada border, four times the size of New York’s Central Park, Holland said.

He disclosed that most solar PV panels used in the facility are manufactured by Chinese manufacturing companies.

Using technology known as solar-thermal, nearly 350,000 computer-controlled mirrors roughly the size of a garage door reflect sunlight to boilers atop the 450-foot towers.

Since breaking ground in October 2010, the project has created thousands of jobs and, at the peak of construction, employed nearly 3,000 site workers, said NRG Energy, which jointly owns the complex with Google, and Oakland-based BrightSource Energy.

Tom Doyle, president of NRG Energy, said, “Cleantech innovations, such as Ivanpah, are critical to establishing America ‘s leadership in large-scale, clean-energy technology that will keep our economy globally competitive over the next several decades.”

“We see Ivanpah changing the energy landscape by proving that utility-scale solar is not only possible, but incredibly beneficial to both the economy and in how we produce and consume energy,” said Doyle.

The opening of Ivanpah comes as the government is pushing for development of greener, cleaner power. Currently, solar power accounts for less than 1 percent of the country’s total power output.


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