By Clarissa Toll |Staff Writer|
The world’s largest solar-concentrating plant opened last week in Southern California.
The solar plant, Ivanpah, located five miles from the California-Nevada boarder, is expected to power 140,000 local homes, according to The San Bernardino Sun.
Ivanpah is a solar electric generation system used as an alternative for clean energy.
The system consists of 347,000 mirrors that collect solar energy that is then used to heat steam which creates the electricity. A vast majority of the facility’s water used for steam is recycled back into the system.
“The Ivanpah project is a shining example of how America is becoming a world leader in solar energy,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz at the plant’s grand opening.
The use of this solar energy will be equivalent to removing 72,000 automobiles from roads, according to NRG Energy officials.
It is estimated that the use of the plant’s energy will reduce carbon monoxide emissions by more than 400,000 tons per year, according to Bright Source Energy’s website.
Critics of the solar plant’s abilities have claimed that these results are irrelevant.
According to Business Insider, the 140,000 homes the plant’s electricity is supposed to service is estimated to average only two people per household.
“There’s other prospects for renewables and for solar that look a lot better than this particular solution,” said Lux Energy analyst Matthew Feinstein.
Another issue with the solar plant is the amount of rare birds that die by diving into the mirrors which biologists believe mimic the look of a lake, according to Bright Source Energy.
Students believe it will open up jobs in the engineering field and help reduce electricity costs.
“It will provide jobs for future engineers with little experience and give them a chance to work with new technology and a chance to show their hands-on skills. The plant will provide the experience an engineer needs in order to keep moving forward in their young career,” said Jeyson Duarte, a computer science and engineering student.
“I do think it is better to have solar energy. It saves the homeowner money on their electric bill each month and throughout their lifetime,” said student Thiam Cheatwood.
For the customers who will not be serviced with the electricity from Ivanpah, Southern California Edison has a Solar initiative that rewards customers who install solar generating systems of their own.
Customers can receive rebates for the amount of energy they save.
The plant has been described as the Hoover Dam of this generation with its substantial size and expectations. Betchel, the engineering firm that engineered the Hoover Dam, also completed the engineering for Ivanpah.
The grounds of the plant is four times that of New York’s Central Park, according to ivanpah.nrgenergy.com.
Ivanpah was granted a $1.6 billion loan from the Department of Energy to ensure the plant’s state of the art technology, according to NRG Energy.
According to The San Bernardino Sun, an estimated $650 million in salaries and operation fees will be paid during the coming 30 years.
Celebrities have also been a part of the new solar plant.
Grammy winners The Fray filmed the music video of the first released song of their upcoming album “Helios” at the plant.
The plant is owned by Google, Bright Source Energy, and NRG Energy.
The electricity created at the plant will serve So Cal Edison as well as Pacific Gas and Electric.