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2014-02-13. A Huge Solar Plant Opens, Facing Doubts About Its Future.

posted Feb 14, 2014, 9:29 AM by Alan Gould
For GSS Energy Use chapter 10. Excerpt: NIPTON, Calif. — The Ivanpah solar power plant stretches over more than five square miles of the Mojave Desert. Almost 350,000 mirrors the size of garage doors tilt toward the sun [onto 2,200-ton boilers 339 feet in the air to make steam that drives turbines to produce electricity] with an ability to energize 140,000 homes. The plant, which took almost four years and thousands of workers assembling millions of parts to complete, officially opened on Thursday, the first electric generator of its kind. It could also be the last. Since the project began, the price of rival technologies has plummeted, incentives have begun to disappear and the appetite among investors for mammoth solar farms has waned.  ...There’s other prospects for renewables and for solar that look a lot better than this particular solution,” he said, including rooftop solar systems that are being installed one by one on businesses and homes. ...The increase in renewable sources of energy, which produce intermittently, coming into the grid, has also increased the need for other services crucial to reliable operation, services that solar thermal plants could provide. Those needs include the ability to start and stop quickly, at any season or hour, when human operators give the order.... http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/14/business/energy-environment/a-big-solar-plant-opens-facing-doubts-about-its-future.html. Diane Cardwell and Matthew L. Wald, The New York Times.