Power In The Desert: Ivanpah On The Verge

The giant Ivanpah solar thermal project in the Mojave Desert is now 92 percent complete, developers said this week. The 377-megawatt project consists of three 459-foot-tall towers encircled by arrays of garage-door-sized mirror sets. Those computer-controlled “heliostats” – 153,990 out of 173,500 of which are in place – will reflect the sun onto the receiving towers, heating water to create steam that will drive turbines that produce electricity.

The government-backed project has drawn criticism from some environmentalists, most notably for its impact on fragile endangered desert tortoise habitat and recently for dust problems linked to the development. But others view it as a remarkable step forward in the search for clean, sustainable energy. Click on the photos below, all taken in early April and provided by developer BrightSource Energy, and see what you think.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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