Solar Thermal Plant-Ivanpah-Brightsource photoAfter years of regulatory and legal tangles ranging from relocating protected tortoises to assessing the impact on Mojave milkweed and other plants, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System formally opened on Thursday as the largest solar power plant of its type in the world.

Part owned by Google Inc., the sprawling plant located in the Mojave Desert with its hundreds of thousands of mirrors can produce nearly 400 megawatts—enough power for 140,000 homes.

At full capacity, the facility’s trio of 450-foot high towers delivers solar electricity to Californians while keeping 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, equal to removing 72,000 vehicles off the road.

The Ivanpah project, a joint effort between NRG Solar, Google, and BrightSource Energy, received a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the US Department of Energy. The largest thermal solar project in the world, it includes 173,500 mirrors that follow the sun’s trajectory, creating steam to power the generators.

“We see Ivanpah changing the energy landscape by proving that utility-scale solar is not only possible, but incredibly beneficial to both the economy and in how we produce and consume energy,” said Tom Doyle, president of NRG Solar.

(READ the AP story, w/ photo, in the Boston Globe)

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