Large-scale ‘solar farm’ technology

BrightSource Energy is the first solar developer to break ground on a utility-scale solar project in California. Here’s a look at the Ivanpah site and its potential impact on desert species that live there:

Bright beacons in the desert
Impact on desert ecosystem
Solar projects in the desert

Artist’s conception of Ivanpah project

The first phase of its six-square-mile Ivanpah facility began in the Mojave Desert near the Nevada border in October 2010. It is expected to be completed in 2012.

Bright beacons in the desert

BrightSource Energy’s three concentrating solar towers could create extreme glare, affecting motorists, pilots and birds — among the concerns about the project under construction near Primm, Nev. A closer look:

Impact on desert ecosystem

The massive solar facility will alter thousands of acres of Mojave Desert habitat. The land may look barren, but it’s a fragile landscape teeming with life:

Solar projects in the desert

Multiple large-scale solar energy projects have been proposed in California’s desert, mostly on federal land. Here is a look at those projects, which are in various stages of approval by the California Energy Commission, and the potential output in megawatts for each.

1. Solar Millennium Ridgecrest
250 megawatts
2. Beacon Solar Energy
250 megawatts
3. Abengoa Mojave Solar 1
250 megawatts
4. Hidden Hills Solar
500 megawatts

5. Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System
370 megawatts
6. Calico Solar
664 megawatts
7. City of Palmdale Hybrid Gas-Solar
570 megawatts (520 MW natural gas, 50 MW solar)

8. Victorville 2 Hybrid Power
563 megawatts (513 MW natural gas, 50 MW solar)
9. Desert Sunlight Solar Farm
550 megawatts
10. Desert Harvest
150 megawatts
11. Rice Solar Energy
150 megawatts

12. Solar Millennium Palen
484 megawatts
13. Genesis Solar Energy
250 megawatts
14. McCoy Solar
750 megawatts
15. Solar Millennium Blythe
1,000 megawatts
16. Rio Mesa Solar
750 megawatts

17. Imperial Valley Solar
709 megawatts
18. C Solar West
250 megawatts
19. C Solar South
200 megawatts
20. Mt. Signal Solar Farm No. 1
600 megawatts
21. Centinela Solar Energy
275 megawatts