World's Largest Solar Thermal Plant Reaches Milestone
Ivanpah, the world's largest solar thermal plant, owned by NRG Energy, Google, and BrightSource Energy, reached a major milestone recently as it achieved its first "flux". The plant uses over 1000 hellostats, which are plane mirrors that reflect sunlight toward a predetermined target. Focusing sunlight on the plant's solar receiver heated water inside a boiler to below the point of steam generation, proving the plant is ready to enter commercial operation. Located in Ivanpah Dry Lake, California, the solar thermal power plant is expected to offset millions of tons of carbon emissions.
The 377 MW plant uses more than 300,000 mirrors to direct the sun's energy toward three centrally positioned towers and produces enough electricity to power 140,000 U.S. homes. Ivanpah's Unit 1 is nearly 90 percent cmomplete, while Units 2 and 3 and 70 percent complete. The next phase of the project will include testing steam pressure and placing additional flux on the boilers. In preparation for the official start of operation, the team will test the system by running steam through the pipes which will clear any debris and prevent eventual damages of the steam turbines.