The Hoover Dam of solar is now live in the desert of California. Here’s why it’s so important

Gigaom

Less than a hundred miles from the rim of the Hoover Dam, just outside of Las Vegas at the edge of dusty San Bernardino County, sits a symbol of how the sun will some day provide copious amounts of electricity for entire cities. This is Ivanpah, the world’s largest operating solar farm, which uses 347,000 mirrors (173,500 heliostats) and three huge 450-foot towers to harness the sun’s heat to generate electricity.

As of the beginning of this year, it’s a mere symbol no longer. After more than seven years of development, over three years of construction, 2,700 workers, and $1.6 billion in U.S. government loan money, the massive solar farm is finally live and sending enough solar power into the grid to power 140,000 (average American) homes. Ivanpah was officially launched on Thursday with an event that featured U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz, David Crane, the CEO of Ivanpah’s…

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