ML - Vegas Magazine

2013 - Issue 5 - September

Vegas Magazine - Niche Media - There is a place beyond the crowds, beyond the ropes, where dreams are realized and success is celebrated. You are invited.

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Page 63 of 163

POWER STRIP At Ivanpah, heliostat mirrors harness solar energy to create electricity. continued from page 61 It's somewhat ironic that this 14-square-mile dry lake bed in California, along the Nevada border, was chosen as the site for an ambitious cleanenergy project. Between 1984 and 1996, radioactive waste leaked 69 times from a Mountain Pass rare-earth mine pipeline beneath the lake. (A total of 1,410 tons of contaminated soil had to be removed.) But, according to Crane, Ivanpah was uniquely suited to the project's needs. "Concentrated solar energy requires intense sunlight all the time," he says. "If you look at solar maps of the world, the only US bull's-eye is over Northwest Arizona and Southern Nevada, in the Mojave Desert. You need a place that's really flat, because we didn't want to bulldoze the natural topography or force a bunch of small animals into extinction. Most of the solar mirrors we used are posted on the land just as it existed before. It's flat enough there to point all the mirrors at the same tower." The project is anticipated to provide enough emission-free electricity to power 140,000 homes each year. And in terms of the local economy, in less than three years it has already BELOW: Ivanpah's hired more than 3,000 construction workers, which doesn't include the workforce carbon offsets are that will be required to manage and maintain the facility. But Crane suggests that the the equivalent of taking 70,000 cars Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System could also have a far-reaching impact on off the road. BOTTOM: the entire energy industry. A $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the "There's this view against solar energy," he says. "People think that they're small US DOE made this projects that are insignificant on the margin, almost like toys. But anyone solar field possible. who goes to Ivanpah will see that this is a very serious power plant. It shows that renewable energy can throw punches the same size as fossil fuels. It also proves the benefit of solar concentrate over solar voltaic. If the sun goes behind a cloud, power from a solar voltaic plant will drop quickly. Concentrated solar—because it uses mirrors to turn water into steam—can handle clouds passing over without fluxing the amount of electricity being delivered. It's much more user-friendly for trying to maintain the stability of the grid." Understandably, Crane has high hopes for the future of sustainable energy. "Ten years from now, I think it will still be overwhelmingly based on fossil fuels, but the main fossil will have changed from coal-focused to natural gas," he says. "I believe that renewable energy will be the biggest-growing proportion, moving toward 20 percent of the total. Right now, wind and solar together are only at five percent, so we're looking for it to quadruple the current market share." V VIEW FROM THE TOP David Crane's inclinations and inspirations. *gone with the wind "Wind is hard to predict, and the sun seemed like a much better bet. There were also more interesting technological developments with solar." *thought leaders "When I first started hearing about greenhouse gas, I thought it was just another type of emissions that we had to deal with, like sulfur, nitrogen, and mercury. The implication of doing nothing about greenhouse gases and the future of mankind was at a different level. A few [now former] utilities CEOs— like Jeff Sterba of Public Service Company of New Mexico, Jim Rogers at Duke Energy, and Peter Darbee at Pacific Gas and Electric— were talking about this before I was really aware of it." *favorite strip landmark "I always thought that the fountain at Bellagio was cool." "You should see what we're doing in Haiti! NRG goes down there every year and puts solar photovoltaic panel systems on orphanages, hospitals, schools, and fish farms. It's been a great thing to see the difference electricity makes to people who had none." 62 PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFF GALE *getting pumped VEGASMAGAZINE.COM 061-062_V_SP_PowerStrip_Sept13.indd 62 8/6/13 1:58 PM

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