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From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report.
The world’s largest solar thermal plant was set to begin producing power in the United States at the end of 2013. Wind and energy from the sun are generally considered clean, unlike energy from coal-burning power stations. But, environmentalists now worry that too much solar power development could harm the environment.
A California company, BrightSource Energy, has been building a huge solar power plant in the Mojave Desert, about 60 kilometers southwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. The plant is called the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System.
The company planned to deploy 170,000 specially designed mirrors to direct solar energy towards boilers on top of three towers. The steam produced in the boilers will drive turbines to make electricity. Joe Desmond works for BrightSource Energy. He says the steam can reach temperatures of more than 260 degrees Celsius. He says the plant can store the sun’s thermal energy in the form of molten salt. With stored energy, he says, the power station can produce electricity even when the sun goes down. Environmentalists generally support the idea of solar power. But there are concerns. Lisa Belenky with a private group called the Center for Biological Diversity. She says environmentalists are worried about the effect of the Ivanpah Solar Project on the sensitive plant and animal life in the Mojave Desert. That includes birds striking solar equipment or being burned after flying through the intense heat. As solar projects increase, developers and environmentalists are considering what to do to reduce bird deaths.