With energy production’s measurable effects of pollution and climate change, and the increasing prices of fossil fuels, scientists are always looking for alternative sources of power. And while the US might be behind some of its Asian and European counterparts in this field, it is quickly catching up, as technology advances, and laws push ever more firmly for alternative energy sources. Whether wind, water, solar or geothermal, here are some of the largest and most innovative renewable energy projects in the United States today.
Ivanpah Solar Facility
With construction spanning three years, and requiring over 2,600 workers and support staff, the Ivanpah Solar Facility comprises three solar thermal power plants covering five and a half square miles between the California/Nevada border of the Mojave Desert.
A 459 Square foot tower harnesses sunlight reflected from 300,000 software-controlled mirrors, which rotate to follow the sun and maximize the focus of energy. The concentrated heat creates steam from the tower’s water storage facility, which powers turbines that create up to 392MW of power for over 14000 homes.
A much cleaner replacement for more traditional fossil fuel-powered energy sources that would, at equivalent capacity, emit up to 400,000 metric tons of C02 annually, it also uses a closed-loop system, using 95% less water than other solar thermal systems.
Alta Wind Energy Center
The largest wind farm in the United States, and third-largest in the world, Alta Wind Energy Center’s sprawling, 3200 acre, eleven-phase construction generates a combined 1550MW, and plans to expand to a total output of 3000MW. Built on the site of the very first large-scale wind farms installed in the United States in the 1970s, Alta is yet more proof of the growing shift to renewable energy sources.
Other states are not to be left behind when it comes to wind energy; Navajo County, Arizona, Arlington in Eastern Oregon, and several large sites in Texas are also responsible for increasingly larger shares of the power grid.
The Geysers California
For decades, the seismically active California region has been one of the world’s top producers of Geothermal Energy, considered to be one of the most reliable alternative power sources today. The Geysers California’s 18 geothermal plants cover more than 45 square miles, with a combined capacity of 1571MW, accounting for over 20% of green power in California. The Geysers’ fortunate location in the Mayacamas mountains is one of only two in the world with a high-temperature, dry steam resource, able to directly move turbines and generate electricity.
Over 350 steam production wells, some as deep as three kilometers have been drilled into the largest geothermal field in the world at The Geysers. The first plant began production in the 1960s, and new plants are still being constructed.
Looking to the Future
As necessity pushes the boundaries of innovation in energy production, newer, cleaner technologies are continuously being developed. The success of these and the many other impressive projects increasingly being planned and completed make for truly inspiring news, both for innovation and for the environment.