With the price of solar power dropping and the world’s appetite for electricity growing, solar power plants are becoming massive in scale. There’s a plant south of Las Vegas that’s one of the world’s biggest plants. It’s sheer size and energy production make it a modern marvel.
What at first looks like a lake in the middle of the Mojave Desert is actually a collection of 170,000 mirrors called heliostats. Each one can produce enough solar energy to power an entire California home. (2b) This project, headed up by NRG, uses these mirrors to reflect onto a tall tower containing a boiler. The water inside turns into steam, which then powers up a turbine of electricity and supplies energy to California’s largest cities without any carbon dioxide emissions. The $2.2 billion dollar project is aiming to supply energy to one third of Californians by the year 2020. This project didn’t come without some serious planning. Since this land is home to the desert tortoise, a protected species, much of the money raised was used to buy conservation land and safely relocate these reptiles. However, workers are more than confident that it will all be worth it, since this method can easily be replicated anywhere in the South West.