Located on the outskirts of the Mojave Desert near the California/Nevada border, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System has three solar towers, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of mirrors reflecting sunlight. Late last month, the facility's Unit 1 station synced to the power grid for the first time, described by officials as a critical milestone. The test proved that the power tower technology in use at the facility, made up of sunlight-tracking heliostats, solar field integration software and a solar receiver steam generator, can effectively transmit power to the power grid.
The 3,500-acre plant is jointly owned by NRG Energy Inc., Brightsource Energy Inc., and Google. Power generated in the Unit 1 test will go to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), which will also receive power from the facility's upcoming Unit 3 test. Power from the Unit 2 station test will go to Southern California Edison.
Photo Credit: Josh Cassidy/KQED