Environment & Science

Ivanpah: Huge solar plant lags in early production

The Ivanpah Solar Power Facility is located in Ivanpah Dry Lake, Calif. near the California-Nevada border. The 3,500-acre facility was completed in 2013.
The Ivanpah Solar Power Facility is located in Ivanpah Dry Lake, Calif. near the California-Nevada border. The 3,500-acre facility was completed in 2013.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Ivanpah Solar Power Facility is located in Ivanpah Dry Lake, Calif. near the California-Nevada border. The 3,500-acre facility was completed in 2013.
Jeff Holland walks near some of 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors that reflect sunlight to boilers that sit on 459-foot towers in this file photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014 in Primm, Nev.
Chris Carlson/AP
The Ivanpah Solar Power Facility is located in Ivanpah Dry Lake, Calif. near the California-Nevada border. The 3,500-acre facility was completed in 2013.
The Ivanpah Solar Power Facility is located in Ivanpah Dry Lake, Calif. near the California-Nevada border. The 3,500-acre facility was completed in 2013.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC


The largest solar power plant of its type in the world isn't producing as much energy as planned.

One of the reasons is as basic as it gets: The sun isn't shining as much as expected.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System opened in February in the Southern California desert near the Nevada line. Operators said it would produce enough electricity to power a city of 140,000 homes.

Figures from the California Energy Commission show the plant is producing about half of its expected annual output for 2014.

The commission said in a statement that clouds, jet contrails and weather have had a greater impact on power production than anticipated.

Jeff Holland of NRG Energy Inc. says the company is confident long-term generation projections will meet expectations.

The plant is backed by $1.6 billion in federal loan guarantees.