The World Biggest Solar Power Plant Is in California

The Sun is a renewable source of energy that has already being used for some time. However, there are a few projects as efficient and audacious as the Ivanpah solar plant. Since February 2013, this mammoth power plant installed in the Mojave Desert, California, is producing a gross power of 392 megawatts (MW).

After three years of construction, the Ivanpah plant is now able to supply electricty to more than 140,000 homes in California. Based on the use of 173,500 heliostats mirrors and steam-powered turbines, this plant, located at 40 miles southwest of Las Vegas covers more than 3,500 acres (14.2 km2). Multinationals like Google, NRG and Bechtel Corporation support this project.

Do you want know more about the world biggest solar power plant? Read this article to know all about the Ivanpah plant.

How does the world biggest solar power plant work?

First of all, let’s understand how does the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System works. Basically, the facility consists of fields with thousands of heliostat mirrors installed around 3 towers each with a boiler on top. Each mirror receives the sunlight, reflecting and concentrating it on to boilers which heat the water to create superheated steam.

Like the conventional electric generators, the Ivanpah plant creates high-temperature steam to turn a turbine and produce energy. The difference is that the fossil fuels used to create the steam are replaced by clean and infinite solar energy.

Since the plant was designed to work efficiently, the system does not allow any waste. Through a creative dry-cooling process, which uses air instead of water to condense the steam, the solar tower technology uses up to 95% less water than other competitor plants. In fact, the steam production cycleis a closed loop system. The water is recycled back into the system while general conservation measures help further reduce water usage.

What are the benefits of the Ivanpah solar plan?

The results are great: clean electricity, enough to serve thousands of homes in California during the peak hours of the day. The atmosphere and environment are also benefited since the Ivanpah plant reduces the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by more than 400,000 tonnes per year.

The project is currently the largest solar thermal power plant in the world. At the same time the economic impact of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System should be pointed out as well. During the construction, the plant employed 2,636 construction workers and support staff (over a 3 year period). Now, for regular maintenance, the plant employs 65 people. You can also see this amazing website about the Ivanpah solar plan.

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Gayrajan Kohli
Gayrajan Kohli
Gayrajan is a staunch solar promoter, serial entrepreneur & management consultant. He has a decade of experience in solar PV, disruptive technologies and political consultancy in USA and India. He believes that development of solar and other renewable technologies is critical to India's energy security. Gayrajan holds a Masters and a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from USA. Follow him on Twitter to gain daily industry insights.
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