The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generation System, located in the Mojave Desert, is on track to becoming the world's largest solar thermal power plant. The project is slated to have two of its solar units generating electricity by the end of 2013 and the third by early 2014, according to California Energy Commission staff.
The project was licensed by the Energy Commission in 2010 as part of the Commission's commitment to support clean renewable energy, reinvigorate the state's economy and bring jobs to California.
Ivanpah is a 377-megawatt solar thermal facility located in San Bernardino County near the Nevada state line. It sits on roughly 3,500 acres of federal land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which also approved the project and issued a right-of-way grant. The project received a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The solar thermal technology of the plant consists of more than 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors that focus the sun's energy toward boilers that sit atop three 459-foot "power towers." When the sunlight hits the boilers, steam is produced and piped to a turbine generator to generate electricity. The project uses air-cooling to minimize water use.
According to Energy Commission calculations, the facility will generate enough energy to power 101,000 average California homes each year. It is expected to reduce roughly 340,650 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to taking 64,250 cars off the road annually.
There are economic benefits as well. More than 2,100 jobs were created during the peak of Ivanpah's construction. In addition, 86 jobs in operations and maintenance will be created when the facility is operating, providing about $650 million in wages and employee earnings during the plant's 30 years of operation. The project is also expected to provide $300 million in local and state taxes during the same period.
NRG Solar, Google and BrightSource Energy are the project owners. Visit the Ivanpah Solar website for more information about the project.