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One Billion Dollar Solar Project Endorsed in CA

A 370 megawatt solar thermal facility has been recommended for approval by the California Energy Commission. The facility will be called the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, and located in  San Bernadino County. Reportedly, it will generate enough electricity to power 140,000 homes.

The type of solar plant that is likely to be built there is not just a large collection of solar panels. Instead it will use several 459 foot high power towers which will have sunlight reflected to them from fields of mirrors, called heliostats. Each mirror is 7 feet by 10.5 feet. The total number of mirrors used could be over 300,000. Inside the power towers are steam boilers which make steam from the reflected light, and steam then turns internal turbines which generate electricity. Several thousand acres of land could be used for the many mirrors.

Solar Power Tower Concept

One issue that appears not to have been completely dealt with is the environmental impact of the construction on the desert lands where it is to be built. Basin and Range Watch reported about this problem, “At least 12 rare plants have been found on the project site, some with significant portions of their range facing destruction from the solar facility.” A Mojave Desert writer’s website delves into this situation even more, “There is a broad misconception among the public (and to some extent among scientists and land managers) that we have completed our floristic inventory of the California desert, and that the remaining hotbeds for botanical discovery are limited to places like Indonesia and the Brazilian Amazon. Yet the California desert is, in fact, one of the remaining floristic frontiers in the United States.”

Endangered desert tortoises also live on the land slated for the construction site, and they have to be relocated, without being harmed, if that is possible.

Construction on the project could begin this fall, and be completed by 2010.  Over 400 workers would be employed during the construction phase. Once operational, about 90 workers will be active in maintaining the energy production and equipment.

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85 comments

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3:56AM PDT on Apr 17, 2013

Great stuff!

2:07AM PDT on Jun 4, 2011

Thanks for the article.

3:21AM PDT on Jun 3, 2011

Totally Awesome! ow maybe they can shut down nuclear power plant along the way. I'm sure solar is cheaper to maintain the nuclear. But I sure most place want go for this since the solar panels would have a mirror effect for air traffic blinding them at times.

12:34AM PDT on Jun 3, 2011

Interesting, but I hope they take the environment into consideration.

10:58AM PST on Feb 17, 2011

Good idea about that. Try Sahara Desert to help Africa?

1:45AM PDT on Oct 1, 2010

Glad to read this! Proud of my state's initiative.

7:13PM PDT on Sep 21, 2010

More states should embrace green energy like California does.

4:21AM PDT on Sep 6, 2010

amaizng

11:36PM PDT on Sep 3, 2010

Solar is usually good, and this project needs a very serious environmental impact statement due to the tortoises, the undiscovered plants and species in the area, the hight of the tower, and the way the solar project works.

11:31PM PDT on Sep 3, 2010

interesting, I would like to keep those desert tortoises, and the plants that have not been discovered. If there are serious objections, maybe they could put the plant somewhere else.
This plan needs a detailed environmental impact statement. The towers are very high.

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