The Ivanpah solar project in the Mojave Desert, the largest solar farm in the world. (Lauren Sommer/KQED)
The Ivanpah solar project in the Mojave Desert, the largest solar farm in the world. (Lauren Sommer/KQED)

The largest solar plant in the world officially starts generating electricity on Thursday. The Ivanpah solar farm, in California’s Mojave Desert about 40 miles south of Las Vegas, will produce enough electricity to power 140,000 homes per year.

It took nearly four years to build the massive plant, which was developed by Oakland-based BrightSource Energy. NRG and Google are also investors in the plant.

The facility is not without controversy: its planning and construction included measures to protect the threatened desert tortoise to the tune of $55,000 per tortoise.

The Department of Energy provided Ivanpah’s developers with a $1.6 billion loan guarantee in 2011. Ivanpah is one of seven massive solar plants scheduled to open in California in 2014. Together they’re part of the coming of age of big solar in the United States.

World’s Largest Solar Plant Opens 13 February,2014Gabriela Quirós


Gabriela Quirós

Gabriela Quirós is a video producer for KQED Science and the coordinating producer for Deep Look. She started her journalism career 25 years ago as a newspaper reporter in Costa Rica, where she grew up. She won two national reporting awards there for series on C-sections and organic agriculture, and developed a life-long interest in health reporting. She moved to the Bay Area in 1996 to study documentary filmmaking at the University of California-Berkeley, where she received master’s degrees in journalism and Latin American studies. She joined KQED as a TV producer when its science series QUEST started in 2006 and has covered everything from Alzheimer’s to bee die-offs to dark energy. She has won four regional Emmys and has shared awards from the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Society of Environmental Journalists. Independent from her work in KQED’s science unit, she produced and directed the hour-long documentary Beautiful Sin, about the surprising story of how Costa Rica became the only country in the world to outlaw in vitro fertilization. The film aired nationally on public television stations in 2015.

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