CSS3Pie trigger
Menu  University of Minnesota

The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar

October 15, 2010 (Image 1 of 12)

The site of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (Ivanpah Solar) prior to commencement of construction, Mojave Desert, California, USA

January 6, 2012 (Image 2 of 12)

Boundary lines and service roads of Solar Field Two contrast with the natural erosion of the site’s alluvial slopes

January 6, 2012 (Image 3 of 12)

Initial heliostat (mirror) installation on the west side of Solar Field One

June 2, 2012 (Image 4 of 12)

Installed heliostats in horizontal or “safe mode”

June 4, 2012 (Image 5 of 12)

Workers installing a heliostat in Solar Field One with mountains reflected in mirrors

October 27, 2012 (Image 6 of 12)

Aerial view to the north of Solar Fields One, Two and Three

October 27, 2012 (Image 7 of 12)

Eastern boundaries of Solar Fields Two and Three near a hill formation that rises above the surrounding alluvial slope

October 27, 2012 (Image 8 of 12)

Tower and power block surrounded by the heliostats of Solar Field One

March 21, 2013 (Image 9 of 12)

Heliostat installation adjacent to Solar Field One power block

September 4, 2013 (Image 10 of 12)

Testing the ability of Solar Field One to create steam and drive turbines

February 3, 2014 (Image 11 of 12)

Concentrated solar thermal power production, Solar Field One

February 3, 2014 (Image 12 of 12)

Overview of the completed Ivanpah Solar Electrical Generating System


The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, which began operations in early 2014 in the Mojave Desert of California, is making a compelling physical statement about our collective ability to shift from a society based on fossil fuels to one that embraces renewable energy production. The world’s largest concentrated solar thermal power plant, Ivanpah Solar uses 173,500 heliostats (347,000 mirrors) to focus the sun’s energy toward three towers, creating enough electricity to power 140,000 U.S. homes.

In our quest for energy to meet the growing demands of a consumption dependent culture, we are transforming our landscapes at an accelerating pace. The need to examine such transformations with an aesthetic and critical eye is compelling. As an artist, I use aerial photography to explore perspectives distinct from those found on Earth’s surface, revealing information and insight otherwise concealed.

Renewable energy projects such as Ivanpah Solar raise challenging questions about land and resource use, exposing contradictions within the environmental movement, local communities, the energy industry and the public. While Ivanpah Solar is located in the American West, the issues encountered during its planning and construction are global ones and relevant to future environmentally responsible energy projects.

In October 2010 I initiated The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar. The completed project will become both a book and a museum exhibition. I intend for my photography on renewable and fossil fuel energy production to continue over the next several years, with a goal of building this work into a project of global scale.

Editor’s note: The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar is made possible by the generous support of individuals, corporations and foundations. Learn more about Stillings’ work at jameystillingsprojects.com

Add Your Comments
  • Brandon Feb. 27th, 2014
    Fantastic imagry Jamey, thanks for sharing! I look forward to seeing the completed work.

    I like how well it demonstrates the facility size required for commercial-scale collection of a diffuse energy resource like solar power. There is great potential, but also great capital and land investment required to harness such resources.

    The average person often doesn't realize the extent of what is involved in the development of these facilities. As a solar researcher, I support expanding our solar thermal footprint, but realize that we must communicate clearly what is required to continue along the path of expanding our renewable energy portfolio.
  • John and Lee Nov. 13th, 2019
    I see an exhibit with the same name at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, Nevada. I'm guessing it is your museum exhibit. (Daily, 9 am to 5 pm) Thank you. I saw the facility many times on our way to LA. Looking forward to learning more. Peace.
Post a Comment

You care about environmental issues. So do we!

Sign up now for our bi-weekly newsletter and you'll get the latest stories from Ensia delivered straight to your inbox.

You're in! Watch your email soon for stories that build awareness and understanding of urgent environmental problems — and promising solutions to those problems.

Share This