The solar thermal technology behind Ivanpah—which is being jointly developed by BrightSource Energy, NRG Energy and Google—uses thousands of mirrors to reflect sunlight. That light is collected in one of Ivanpah’s three solar towers, where the intense heat transforms water into steam. That steam is piped to a turbine that generates electricity. It’s the same basic technology behind a coal or natural gas plant—only the sun provides the heat.
Ivanpah also has the advantage of producing electricity on a much smoother curve than solar PV, which means it can keep generating power later into the day. But Ivanpah, which should go fully online before the end of the year, has something else: sheer beauty.
See on science.time.com