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Ivanpah, World’s Largest Solar Power Plant, Went Online In California


ku-xlargeJust a week after India announced their plans to open of the world’s largest solar power plant, the guys from NRG Energy, BrightSource Energy and Google, actually went ahead and did it. As of yesterday, 140,000 Californian homes will be getting their electricity from the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, which will be providing a gross total of 392 megawatts of renewable solar power.

The news went all over the net, and in no time it was read by millions. Green energy lovers celebrated the start of the operation of the massive plant, which is expected to cut down annual carbon dioxide emissions by the incredible 400,000 metric tones. It all finally happened just three years after Google first announced that they will be investing in the solar plant, and only a year after the testing began.

The solar plant, located on the boarder between California and Nevada, looks truly amazing. It consists of three nearly 500-feet tall towers, each having boilers that create steam and power turbines. All 300,000+ mirrors that surround the towers are facing the boilers so that all solar energy is sent directly to them.

Of course, such incredible venture is bound to receive some criticism. Many argue that maintaining the mirrors that spread across 5 square miles clean would be extremely difficult, expensive and labor-intensive, which will ultimately lead to drop in efficiency. According to economists, the plant will produce much less energy than conventional natural gas-fired plants, while occupying much bigger space. In addition, it was estimated that the electricity produced by the plant will be around four times more expensive.

Last but not least, of course, the animal activists jumped in, stating that the towers will affect the local bird population, as they are able to generate extremely high temperatures, and at the same time they will attract more birds to land on them.

In any case, the world’s largest solar power plant is now up and running. To what extent it will meet all negative expectations, it remains to be seen, but from where I am standing, it is much better than any coal-burning power plant.

Image (c) BrightSource Energy, Inc.

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