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Ivanpah solar thermal plant

Three towers

Many, many mirrors

'Power tower' tech

Pumping electricity

Pipes

Reflecting the sun

Mirror, mirror in the desert

Waiting for rays

Mountain backdrop

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System -- jointly owned by NRG Energy, Google, and BrightSource Energy -- started delivering power to California's electric grid on Thursday. The solar thermal plant, which covers approximately 3,500 acres in Southern California, creates high-temperature steam to drive power generators.

Caption by / Photo by BrightSource Energy
The plant has three 450-foot high towers that can produce a gross total of 392 megawatts of solar power, according to plant operator NRG Energy.
Caption by / Photo by BrightSource Energy
Surrounding the towers are more than 300,000 software-controlled mirrors.
Caption by / Photo by BrightSource Energy
The mirrors reflect the sunlight to boilers at the top of the towers, which creates high-temperature steam that then turns a turbine, according to BrightSource.
Caption by / Photo by BrightSource Energy
The Ivanpah plant generates enough electricity to supply 140,000 homes, said NRG Energy.
Caption by / Photo by BrightSource Energy
The plant accounts for nearly 30 percent of all solar thermal energy in the US and is the largest solar project of its kind in the world, according to NRG Energy.
Caption by / Photo by BrightSource Energy
Construction on the plant, which sits on federal land, started in October 2010 and cost $2.2 billion.
Caption by / Photo by BrightSource Energy
An up-close look at the plant's garage-door size mirrors.
Caption by / Photo by BrightSource Energy
Ivanpah is the first plant to use BrightSource's "power tower" technology to produce electricity, said NRG Energy.
Caption by / Photo by BrightSource Energy
Located in Ivanpah Dry Lake, Calif., the plant sits on public desert land.
Caption by / Photo by BrightSource Energy
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