On February 13, 2014, an enormous power plant began operation in the Mojave Desert. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is now operational after years of construction and testing.
Just to give you an idea of how big this project is, the plant covers an area of 5.5 square miles, making it the largest on Earth. The system will generate 30 percent of the entire solar thermal energy produced in the United States. There are three, 459-feet tall towers which are surrounded by more than 300,000 mirrors each of which is the size of a garage door. The mirrors focus sunlight on to the giant water boiler at the top of each tower. The heat produced by the mirrors is so intensely concentrated that it boils the water and turns it to steam which is used to drive the turbines that generate electricity.
However, all is not well. The mirrors produce such large amounts of heat that they have scorched birds flying over the plant. This has obviously raised controversies about the project, but the supporters of green energy pushed forward in the hopes that the birds will learn to change their flying patterns. For now, the solar facility is posing a threat to local birds and causing deaths.
The plant will power 140,000 homes in California, USA which has long been a place that is known for utilizing green energy on a large scale. It is the place where wind energy is also used to harvest power.
When compared to wind energy, solar power is both more efficient and more dependable. The amount of sunlight in a desert is almost constant everyday, whereas wind patterns are changing throughout the year and using a single setup of wind turbines to harness energy from all of them is difficult. Wind power can be used alongside solar power, but when your need is to provide power to 140,000 homes, the latter source is the better option.