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The Beauty of the World’s Largest Solar Project

Deep in the Mojave Desert, the mirrors of Ivanpah Solar follow the sun.

Fifty miles southeast of Las Vegas, at the edge of the California-Nevada border in the Mojave, the Ivanpah Solar Facility takes in the full measure of the desert sun. Instead of photovoltaic solar panels, the project uses 173,500 heliostats, each with two mirrors, arranged in concentric circles that follow the sun, beaming its heat up to four “Power Towers.” The heat is then used to boil water and create steam, which is then run through a turbine. The plant is a $2.2 billion venture backed by the Department of Energy, and it can service an average of 140,000 homes annually.

Since 2010, Jamey Stillings has photographed the creation and implementation of Ivanpah Solar. Over four years, Stillings took 20 flights over the facility to capture the dramatic geometry of of Ivanpah’s mirrors, roads and towers, and he has collected his sixty of these photographs in The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar, recently published by Steidl.

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