One big problem with renewable energy projects is that they have to go somewhere. They have to occupy a part of the very environment that their proponents are often trying to save.
Photographer Jamey Stillings beautifully captures this tension in his images of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS). Located in Southern California’s Mojave Desert, the plant aims to eventually be the largest solar thermal power plant in the world – making enough electricity to run 140,000 homes all by focusing the sun’s energy to create steam.
Problem is, the system is located smack in the middle of the threatened desert tortoise habitat and the companies that built the system have already had to allocate $56 million to care for and relocate these ground dwellers. At least one major environmental group has argued the plant should have never been built on its current location.
“What I’ve discovered along the way is the issue of building renewable energy is a lot more complicated than one what might assume from afar,” says Stillings, who has been photographing Ivanpah since 2010.
Known for his photos of other large-scale industrial engineering projects at the intersection of nature and human activity, Stillings hopes the Ivanpah photos provide a way for people on opposite sides of the issue to find common ground for negotiations.
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