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World’s largest solar thermal plant passes first test

The world’s largest solar thermal power plant recently reached an important milestone, representing the start of the final stage of the project.

Ivanpah is a 377 MW solar thermal power station, located in California’s Mojave Desert, owned by NRG Energy, Google and BrightSource Energy. Once operational, Ivanpah will generate electricity by using solar power to heat water that powers a steam turbine.

And just last week, Ivanpah achieved its first solar flux – which is when a large amount of solar radiation is reflected off the mirrors in a solar thermal system.


One of Ivanpah's solar receivers. Credit: ivanpahsolar.com


“First flux essentially demonstrates operational readiness of the project” said Mike Bobinecz, VP Construction Management, BrightSource Energy.

“After years of planning, engineering, manufacturing and construction, we are entering the final stage of start-up of the equipment and systems.”

During last week’s flux, over a thousand mirrors focused sunlight onto one of the plant’s solar receivers, heating the water inside the boiler. Before that test, only five to ten mirrors had been focused at the solar receiver at any one time.

“First flux is a very important milestone for the project and the solar field team is very proud,” said Gil Kroyzer, VP Modeling & Solar Field Design, BrightSource Energy, the technology provider for the Ivanpah project.

“We are now focused on reaching the point where we can place a full load of heliostats onto the boiler and push the project towards commercial operation.”

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