Huge US solar plant Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System lags in early production

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System was built at the California-Nevada border in February 2014, with the aim to produce enough electricity for 140,000 homes. NRG Energy Inc. together with Google Inc. and BrightSource Energy took it as a challenge to build this huge US Solar Plant for long-term manufacturing of solar energy produced electricity.

Huge US Solar Power Plant Image

This Aug. 13, 2014 photo shows an array of mirrors at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating site in Primm, Nev. The largest solar power plant of its type in the world, promoted as a turning point in green energy, isn’t producing the expected energy and one of the reasons is as basic as it gets: The sun isn’t shining as often as expected. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

It was planned that this massive solar power plant which is situated approximately 13 square kilometers of the federal dessert near the border adjoining the two states California and Nevada, would produce inexpensive electricity and would become a revolution in the manufacture of green energy in the world. However, the high claims of the owners of this US Solar Plant, have failed to see the light of fulfillment.

The California Energy Commission has calculated that the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is producing half of the green energy that had been promised for production for the year 2014. The major reason that is being put forward for the failure of this massive US Solar Plant project is the unavailability of proper sunlight.

Moreover, it is being said that the factors affecting the production of solar energy at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System have been the initial equipment challenges and the irregular weather patterns. However, it is being anticipated that this US Solar Plant will be able to overcome all these discrepancies and produce the annual target for solar energy till the year 2018. At present, the plant is being operated with the help of a hefty $1.6 billion federal loan to attain the target its founders had set.

It is interesting to note that the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is built with the latest solar-thermal technology; which is the also the reason why a lot was being expected by it. It is structured differently from the traditional solar plants and was constructed with a huge investment of $2.2 billion. This US Solar Plant consists of nearly 350,000 computer controlled solar mirrors programmed to reflect sunlight towards the boilers which are 459 feet high. Each of these computer controlled solar mirrors is as big as a garage door and each boiler taller than the Statue of Liberty! The boilers are operated through natural gas which produces steam. This steam in turn runs the turbines and hence electricity is generated.

However, if there is no or little sunlight, the equipment being employed at the solar plant can be damaged. In addition to this, the fact that the plant is situated in a dessert can also cause problems for the proper working of the equipment. The dessert sand cannot be stopped from entering the plant and polluting the solar mirrors and hence becoming a great hazard for the company.

There are still hopes that the US Solar Plant will be able to produce electricity in full capacity 8 hours a day for 140,000 homes as was initially planned. It turns out that the owners of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System are confident that after their initial experiment of the advanced solar-thermal technology is complete, they will be able to get the required performance from the plant.

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