Ivanpah's solar thermal power plant
In California's Mojave desert, concentrated sunlight drives steam generators to provide enough electricity to power a city.
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System occupies about 3,500 acres of federal land in the Mojave Desert.
The system uses an array of mirrors to concentrate solar rays onto a tower lined with water pipes. The steam generated by the process drives turbines that generate electricity. A set of three plants will generate enough electricity to supply 140,000 homes.
Solar receiver, or boiler
173,500 computer-controlled heliostats track the sun, reflecting sunlight onto a black solar receiver, which absorbs the rays and converts them to radiant heat.
Like most of the world's power plants, Ivanpah uses steam-driven turbines to generate electricity.
• The company building the plants claims that the low-emission process will spare the atmosphere nearly half a million tons of greenhouse gases every year.
• Thousands of acres of threatened desert tortoise habitat were disturbed while building the plants.
• Some environmentalists are concerned that plumes of hot air from the towers might harm birds.
In the boiler of the 459-foot tower, water is heated to more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, converting it to steam.
Under extreme pressure, the super- heated steam is piped to a turbine, which generates electricity sent across California through transmission lines.
Steam exits the turbine building through large-diameter vents that route the vapor through a huge air-cooled condenser.
Condensed water is piped up the tower, to be heated again.
SOURCE: Sources: BrightSource Energy, Google Earth.