(QHA) - The world's largest solar thermal plant is set to go online in California by the end of the year, VOA informs. While wind and sun-generated energy are generally considered clean, unlike coal-generated energy, environmentalists now worry that large-scale solar development could harm fragile desert ecosystems. As reported, Ivanpah is a field of mirrors, shimmering like a mirage in California's Mojave desert, about 60 kilometers southwest of Las Vegas. Joe Desmond is a senior official at BrightSource Energy, the company that's building the plant. "This is actually one of the highest concentrations of sunlight in the world, out here in Ivanpah," explained Desmond. The plant will deploy 170,000 heliostat mirrors to focus solar energy on boilers located on top of three power towers. The steam generated in these boilers will drive turbines to produce energy. According to Desmond the steam can reach temperatures of more than 260 degrees Celsius. "We can store the sun's thermal energy in the form of molten salt, so we can produce electricity even when the sun goes down. There is a lot of interest in concentrating solar power around the globe in environments where you have lots of sun, such as China, South Africa, the Middle East, North Africa," explained Desmond.

QHA