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Desert Sunlight where 8 million solar panels power 160, 000 California homes. Jamey Stillings for TIME
Desert Sunlight Solar Farm produces 550 megawatts of energy, equal to the output of a conventional power plant, near Palm Springs, Calif., where 8 million photovoltaic (PV) panels convert sunlight into electricity.Jamey Stillings for TIME
Desert Sunlight where 8 million solar panels power 160, 000 California homes. Jamey Stillings for TIME
Desert Sunlight Solar Farm produces 550 megawatts of energy, equal to the output of a conventional power plant, near Palm Springs, California, where. 8 million photovoltaic (PV) panels convert sunlight into electricity.  Jamey Stillings for TIME
The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, a 110 megawatt solar thermal power project, near Tonopah, Nevada. Jamey Stillings
The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, a 110 megawatt solar thermal power project, near Tonopah, Nevada. Jamey Stillings
The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, a 110 megawatt solar thermal power project, near Tonopah, Nevada. Jamey Stillings
Mirrored heliostats dot the landscape at the Ivanpah Solar Plant in the Mojave Desert, California. Jamey Stillings
Construction of Ivanpah Solar Field  One in the Mojave Desert, California. Jamey Stillings
Heliostat installation at the Ivanpah thermal solar plant in the Mojave Desert, California. Jamey Stillings
Mirrored Heliostats at the Ivanpah Solar plant in the Mojave Desert in California. Jamey Stillings
Mirrored Heliostats that reflect and concentrate desert sunshine surround a tower at the Ivanpah Solar power station in the Mojave Desert, California. Jamey Stillings
350, 000 mirrored heliostats reflect light onto boilers generating 392 megawatts of energy at the Ivanpah Solar power station in the Mojave Desert, California. Jamey Stillings
in the  Mojave Desert, California. Unlike solar photovoltaic plants, which generate electricity directly from sunlight, Ivanpah uses hundreds of thousands of curved mirrors to reflect and concentrate the desert sunshine. Jamey Stillings
Desert Sunlight Solar Farm produces 550 megawatts of energy, equal to the output of a conventional power plant, near Pal
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Jamey Stillings for TIME
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See the World's Largest Solar Plants From Above

Feb 26, 2015

The Desert Sunlight Solar Farm in California’s Mojave Desert is the world’s largest solar plant with eight million panels producing 550 megawatts of power — or enough to supply 160,000 homes.

For the latest issue of TIME, we commissioned Jamey Stillings to photograph the plant. “I’ve had a long-term interest in the intersection of nature and human activity,” he says. “How we connect to nature; how we decide to use and modify nature for what we want to do.”

A little over four years ago, Stillings decided to marry that photographic interest with an environmental perspective, looking at the development of our species and society as we slowly move away from fossil fuels. “From a historic standpoint in the United States, we remember building the Hoover Dam, we remember building the Empire State Building. The photographs of that become our visual memories; they become part of our collective consciousness.”

With his photographs of renewable energy plant sites, Stillings is looking toward the future. “I’m interested in being involved both with the contemporary conversation and also acknowledging the fact that, not too far down the road, we’re going to start having a historical perspective on them. They will mean something different to us 10 years from now, 50 years from now and 100 years from now.”

And while Stillings wants to keep his focus on renewable energies — to produce a global study of their development — he’s considering documenting fossil fuel as well. “I want to create a visual counterpoint,” he says, “to show, for example, the differences in the environmental impact of five sq. mi. of solar panels and that of five sq. mi. of coal mining.”

Jamey Stillings is a photographer based in Santa Fe, N.M. His monograph The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar will be published by Steidl in 2015.

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