The Ivanpah Solar Thermal Power System from BrightSource

ivanpah solar thermal power system

The Ivanpah solar thermal power system uses BrightSource’s proven solar tower technology to produce clean, reliable solar electricity to more than 140,000 homes. Located in Ivanpah Dry Lake, California, the three-unit power system is built on approx. 3,500 acres and created more than 2,600 jobs for construction workers and support staff.


A 377 megawatt net solar complex using mirrors to focus the power of the sun on solar receivers atop power towers.


  • The electricity generated by all three plants is enough to serve more than 140,000 homes in California during the peak hours of the day.
  • The complex will reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 400,000 tons per year.
  • Located in Ivanpah, approximately 50 miles northwest of Needles, California (about five miles from the California-Nevada border) on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
  • The facility is comprised of three separate plants built in phases between 2010 and 2013, and uses BrightSource Energy’s LPT solar thermal technology.



• Location: Ivanpah Dry Lake, CA
• Size: Approx. 3,500 acres (14.2 km2)
• Power Production: 377 MW (Net) / 392 MW (Gross)
• Average Homes Served Annually: 140,000(California, USA)
• Customers: PG&E andSouthern California Edison
• Partners: NRG, Google, Bechtel Corporation, and the Department of Energy
• Construction Commenced:October 2010
• Operational: December 2013

• Ivanpah produces electricity the same way that most of the world’s electricity is produced – by creating high-temperature steam to turn a conventional turbine. However, instead of burning fossil fuels to create the steam, we use the clean and infinite sun as fuel.
• At the heart of BrightSource’s proprietary power-tower solar thermal system is an innovative solar field design, optimization software and a control system that allow for the creation of high temperature steam.
• At Ivanpah, over 300,000 software-controlled mirrors track the sun in two dimensions and reflect the sunlight to boilers that sit atop three 459 foot tall towers. When the concentrated sunlight strikes the boilers’ pipes, it heats the water to create superheated steam.
• This high-temperature steam is then piped from the boiler to a standard turbine where electricity is generated. From here, transmission lines carry the power to homes and businesses.

To learn more about Brightsource visit www.brightsource,com

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.

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