Located on 3,600 acres of U.S. BLM managed land in southeastern California, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) is a 392 megawatt (gross) solar thermal power facility developed by BrightSource Energy.
Ivanpah produces electricity the same way that most of the world’s electricity is produced—by creating high-temperature steam to turn a conventional turbine. However, instead of burning fossil fuels to create the steam, they use the clean and infinite sun as fuel.
Thousands of “Heliostat” mirrors are programed to track the sun and point toward a solar receiver filled with water on top a 400 foot high tower. The high temperature turns the water into steam which is piped into a turbine, generating electricity.
The Ivanpah project is creating clean energy, and over the course of the plant’s 30-year life, it will save 13.5 million tons of carbon dioxide. This renewable energy plant still has its impacts as well and must deal with issues involving native soil and vegetation and habitat for threatened desert tortoises. As with any energy development, Ivanpah must take steps to reduce its impact on the land. Lessons learned from the Ivanpah project will help managers plan better for future projects on a broader landscape level, proper site-selection, research potential impacts, and offset them where possible.
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