West Coast Catches Some Rays With World's Largest Power Plant
Americans move one step closer into an age of clean electricity as the world’s largest thermal power project, Ivanpah, reaches maximum output on the boarder of Nevada and California after formally opening on Feb. 13. The thermal power project is jointly owned by energy companies NRG Energy, BrightSource Solar and search engine juggernaut, Google.
Though Google seems to be the odd duckling of the group, it is entirely possible that it is heavily investing in clean energy as a form of research in long term sustainability for its own worldwide array of server farms.
“At Google we invest in innovative renewable energy projects that have the potential to transform the energy landscape and help provide more clean power to businesses and homes around the world. Ivanpah is a shining example of such a project and we’re delighted to be a part of it,” Rick Needham said, Google’s director of sustainability congratulating the project.
Activist group, Greenpeace estimates that “Google’s eight current and planned server farms could consume 476 megawatts of electricity if they were operating at full capacity. That’s enough to power all the homes in San Diego.”
Ivanpah creates 392 megawatts at full capacity with virtually no carbon footprint. Three towers and a vast array of computer controlled mirrors occupy more than five square miles of desert with the soul aim to generate steam and create power for the population of California. Each tower is 459 feet tall and rival the Statue of Liberty by 150 feet.
Power from the new plant will create “enough electricity to power 140,000 homes in California and will avoid enough electricity to provide 140,000 California homes with clean energy and avoid 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, equal to removing 72,000 vehicles off the road” according at a press release on Feb. 13 from NRG Energy.
The plant currently accounts for 30 percent of all solar thermal energy in the United States and is the largest project of its kind in the world, bringing the US to center stage in green technology. A feat not possible without a $1.6 billion loan from the US Department of Energy.
The plant achieved initial operation at minimal capacity in December but has recently reached maximum output and thus sealed its place in energy history.
By Sean Burke