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World's Largest Solar Thermal power plant goes online in California

Feb 14 2014, 8:28am CST | by , in News | Technology News

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World's Largest Solar Thermal power plant goes online in California

Power generation is underway at massive solar facility

There is a lot to like about solar power. One of the big things is that it produces no pollution to harm the atmosphere. Once you get over the cost of installing the equipment to harness the solar energy and maintain that equipment, solar power is very cheap.

The largest solar thermal power plant in the world has gone live in California. The plant is called the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System and it has three units. Each of the massive units has a 450-foot high tower and they are able generate a combined 392MW of power.

The Ivanpah solar facility was a joint effort between NRG Solar LLC, Google, and BrightSource Energy. The facility was built using funds from a $1.6 billion loan guaranteed from the US department of Energy Loan Programs Office. The facility generates almost 30% of the solar thermal energy produced in the US.

The Ivanpah facility is also the first to use the BrightSource solar power tower technology to make electricity. The system has 173,500 heliostats that follow the sun.

“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,” said Tom Doyle, president, NRG Solar. “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. Whether it’s partnering, developing or investing, NRG will continue to provide a diverse set of solutions and technologies to get the U.S. to the ultimate goal of providing affordable, reliable clean energy for everyone.”

Power generated by the Ivanpah units 1 and 3 is being sold to Pacific Gas & Electric. Power from Unit 2 is being sold by Southern California Edison under a similar contract.

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