This is a 400 Megawatt solar generating station under construction about 40 miles from Las Vegas. During the day its generation is roughly equivalent to 1/2 a nuclear power plant. Or for my fellow Massachusetts residents, comparable to the rated production of the proposed Cape Wind project.
These type of plants have hundreds of mirrors on the ground that focus sunlight onto the top of the tower. The immense heat is used to generate steam that turns a generator. They are significant in that they are fairly efficient at converting sunlight to electricity and in many cases – (though apparently not this case) they are being designed using molten salt to store energy for night time dispatching. Those that do use molten salt storage address one of the major criticisms of renewable energy which is that it is intermittent and cannot be tuned to usage patterns. An impressive factoid about this site is that it uses a negligible amount of water for cooling. This is VERY important in that area as water is a critical resource and running into extreme supply problems. See info on lake Meade which is only 50 miles away and the presumed water source.
There is a good overview site that explains a lot of the key benefits and statistics. They are very careful to talk about tax benefits and employment as I assume that this got federal assistance, most likely in the form of loan guarantees (If readers find links to info on that please leave a comment with links).
View of Ivanpah – Google Earth Coordinates (lat, long) – 35.557513, -115.468341
Google Earth view of the area around Las Vegas providing scale and showing major renewable energy sites.