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Energy - Ivanpah Thermal Solar Plant
David Gardner

This series is part of the project Into the Anthropocene. In 2016, those who determine such things officially agreed the Earth had entered a new age in its evolution. Termed the Anthropocene, it is defined as human–influenced, where human activity has caused irreversible changes to climate, ocean and landform. Anthropocene supplants the Holocene that began at the end of the last ice age about 11,000 years ago. Our new Earth Age is the starting point for this series of pictures that seeks to explore vast man–altered landscapes. I am both concerned and curious how repercussions from this turning point are impacting our earth, and feel a need to address it in an ongoing way. This portion of the project looks at the Ivanpah Thermal Solar Power Plant.

Coming over the rise through Nipton, California on Highway 164 into the Ivanpah Valley, the Ivanpah Thermal Solar Power Plant came into view. Like a vision from Tolkien’s Mordor, three towers, glowing ominously, rise above the surrounding desert on a gentle slope. The towers are surrounded on all sides by mirror arrays, known as heliostats, that reflect the sunlight onto the central towers.

It is not an easy thing to make the Mohave desert look small, but at 35,000 acres on leased BLM land, the sprawling plant caused a disorienting effect on my senses as my mind struggled to fit it into proper scale. It is the largest solar plant of its kind in the world and generates 377 megawats that provide electricity to 140,000 homes. I was interested in exploring the effect this large facility had on my perception of the natural landscape. As world populations increase along with associated demand for energy, formerly untouched natural landscapes and ecosystems will continue to be disturbed or destroyed.

- David Gardner

I live part–time in San Francisco and part–time in a 26 ft. Lazy Daze motorhome, christened Carpe Diem, pursuing my photographic interests across the continent. I am largely self–taught, but consider my longtime friendship with fine art photographer Stephen Johnson, and the likes of Richard Misrach and Edward Burtynsky to be the basis of my photographic inspiration and proficiency. I studied graphic arts and multimedia design at San Francisco State University, and attend classes and lectures at the San Francisco Art Institute as time permits. My photographs have been exhibited across the country. This series was a Portfolio Award winner in the 2018 San Francisco Bay International Photo Show.

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