World’s largest thermal solar power plant rises in Mojave Desert

$2.2B project tests the balance between conservation and the pursuit of green energy.

PRIMM, Nev. — Hundreds of thousands of mirrors the size of garage doors have transformed a windy stretch of the Mojave Desert into the largest solar power plant of its type in the world.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System sprawls across roughly five square miles of federal land southwest of Las Vegas. It formally opens Feb. 13 after years of regulatory and legal tangles, including relocating protected tortoises and assessing the impact on desert plants.

The $2.2 billion project is a milestone for a growing industry, but it’s testing the balance between wilderness conservation and the pursuit of green energy across the West.

The massive plant’s dedication comes as government pushes for development of greener, cleaner power.

But the Western Watershed Project is suing federal agencies that reviewed the project. It says serious environmental impacts were ignored.