The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

In California's Mojave Desert, about 40 miles southwest of Las Vegas (Google map), lies a five-square-mile solar thermal power project called the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (SEGS). The $2.2 billion facility consists of three power plants, each with a 40-story tower surrounded by thousands of sun-following mirrors called heliostats. The mirrors focus sunlight onto boilers atop the towers, creating steam, which drives turbines that generate enough electricity to power 140,000 California homes. The facility, owned by NRG Energy, Google and BrightSource Energy formally opened on February 17 and has a capacity of 392 megawatts. Getty Images photographer Ethan Miller made several trips to Ivanpah recently, returning with these great shots of the massive power plant, now up and running.
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1. An aerial view of a solar receiver and boiler atop a tower at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (SEGS) in the Mojave Desert in California near Primm, Nevada, on February 20, 2014. The largest solar thermal power-tower system in the world, owned by NRG Energy, Google and BrightSource Energy, opened last month in the Ivanpah Dry Lake and uses 347,000 computer-controlled mirrors to focus sunlight onto boilers on top of three 459-foot towers, where water is heated to produce steam to power turbines providing power to more than 140,000 California homes.




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2. The three solar thermal power plants that make up the 4,000 acre Ivanpah SEGS near Primm, Nevada, on February 20, 2014.




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3. One of the Ivanpah SEGS towers, surrounded by thousands of mirrors mounted on heliostats, in the Mojave Desert, on February 20, 2014.




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4. Heliostats at the Ivanpah SEGS, seen from above in front of the Clark Mountain Range in California's Mojave Desert, on March 3, 2014.




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5. Mirrors at the Ivanpah SEGS facility, photographed on February 20, 2014.




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6. Mirrors on heliostats at the Ivanpah SEGS facility, photographed on February 20, 2014.




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7. A heliostat with two mirrors reflects other heliostats at the Ivanpah SEGS, on February 27, 2014.




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8. An air-cooled condenser housing giant fans, seen beneath a solar receiver and boiler on top of a tower at the Ivanpah SEGS on February 27, 2014.




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9. Workers monitor plant operations in the control room of the Ivanpah SEGS on February 27, 2014 in the Mojave Desert in California.




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10. A monitor in the control room of the Ivanpah SEGS displays steam cycle data, on February 27, 2014.




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11. Vehicles travel on a road between rows of heliostats at the Ivanpah SEGS, on March 3, 2014.




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12. Some of the 173,500 heliostats installed in the Mojave Desert at the Ivanpah SEGS, on March 3, 2014.




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13. Two of the three units at the Ivanpah SEGS, operating on March 3, 2014.




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14. A solar receiver and boiler on top of a tower at the Ivanpah SEGS, in an aerial view on February 20, 2014.




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15. An air-cooled condenser and a solar receiver and boiler on top of a tower, at the Ivanpah SEGS on March 3, 2014.




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16. Reflected sunlight is directed onto a solar receiver and boiler on top of a tower at the Ivanpah SEGS, on March 3, 2014.




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17. One of the three power plants at the Ivanpah SEGS, photographed on February 20, 2014.




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18. An aerial view of the 4,000 acre Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, seen in an aerial view above California's Mojave Desert, on February 20, 2014.