Published: September 2009

Solar Energy

Solar rays in Spain

Plugging Into the Sun

Sunlight bathes us in far more energy than we could ever need—if we could just catch enough.

By George Johnson
Photograph by Michael Melford

Early on a clear November morning in the Mojave Desert, the sun is barely touching the peaks of the McCullough Range with a cool pink glow. Behind them, a full moon is sinking over the gigawatt glare of Las Vegas. Nevada Solar One is sleeping. But the day's work is about to begin.

It is hard to imagine that a power plant could be so beautiful: 250 acres of gently curved mirrors lined up in long troughs like canals of light. Parked facing the ground overnight, they are starting to awaken—more than 182,000 of them—and follow the sun.

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