domingo, 31 de marzo de 2013

300,000 mirrors: World's largest thermal solar plant (377MW) under construction in the Mojave

ORIGINAL: TreeHugger
March 27, 2013

credit: Brightsource
The largest concentrating solar power plant (100 MW) in operation is currently in Abu Dhabi, but it won't stay at the top of the list for too long. Brightsource Energy is putting the finishing touches on its massive Ivanpah concentrating solar power (CSP) plant in the Mojave desert, and if all goes well, the switch should be flipped this year.


credit: Brightsource
Ivanpah will have a capacity of 377 megawatts, or about enough energy to power 140,000 houses. It took more than 5 years to plan it, get permits, finance it, and build it. The shot above shows an early phase of construction.

credit: Brightsource
Here are some mirrors being brought to the site to be installed. At Ivanpah alone, over 300,000 software-controlled mirrors will track the sun and reflect the sunlight to boilers that sit atop three 459 foot tall towers. This heat is then turned into steam that goes through turbines to generate electricity.

credit: Brightsource
Brightsource says that the project has created 2,100 jobs for construction workers and support staff and will have generated about $650 million in employee wages and earnings. Of course, most of this is during the construction phase. Once the CSP plant is up and running, it'll only take less than 100 people to maintain it... But the construction workers can then move on to building another one, or maybe a wind farm.

credit: Brightsource
Here's a shot that shows just how many mirrors are used. It's really amazing how big this is, and how much solar energy will be concentrated into that (relatively) small tower at the center.

credit: Brightsource
This aerial shot shows one of the towers well.

credit: Brightsource
The second tower, with some mirrors still left to be installed.

credit: Brightsource
Here we can see how concentrating solar power works. Step #4 is particularly important; it's possible to store heat and generate electricity when the sun isn't shinning. Particularly useful since peak use time extends into the evening.

Ivanpah will not use thermal storage, but future Brightsource projects probably will.

credit: Brightsource
Here you can see where the three towers are in relation to each other.

credit: Brightsource
A different view of the solar power plant.

credit: Brightsource
A closeup of the central tower. Notice how small the cars on the ground seem compared to it. The scale of these things is huge.

credit: Brightsource
This is a computer-generated rendering by Brightsource that shows what the final product will look like when in operation. You wouldn't want to be an ant climbing the side of that central tower...

credit: Brightsource
Here's another rendering.

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