New Ways to Catch Rays

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Thermal trough

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.

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