Thermal trough This is the world's largest
solar power plant, situated on a stretch of land larger than New York's
Central Park. Out in the Mojave Desert, three hours from Los Angeles, rows of
trough-shaped mirrors collect and concentrate the sun's heat and
ultraviolet radiation to cook tubes of synthetic oil up to 750°F. The hot
oil is piped to a generating station to flash-boil water, making steam that
drives a traditional power turbine. Built in the mid-1980s, the Kramer Junction
plant has been reliably providing about 350 megawatts of peak power to the L.A.
grid, enough to power more than 150,000 homes.