Out in the middle of the Nevada desert just outside of Tonopah, the tower pierces into the Nevada sky.
"This is actually the real deal," says Brian Painter, Solar Reserve Site Construction Manager. "This is cutting edge technology. This is what I feel is going to change things."
So, what is it? Technically, it's what they call a CSP, or Concentrating Solar Energy Plant. This one is called the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, and there's nothing else like it on the planet.
This plant is expected to power up to 75,000 homes a day. Surrounding the tower, there are about 10,000 of heliostats, which are actually just big mirrors. They're going to harness the sun's energy, and reflect it up to the dark part of the tower. When the sunlight is reflected upon that spot, it will heat molten salt to temperatures over 1,000 degrees. That heat will be turned into steam, which then will be converted into energy.
"Tonopah is an excellent site for sun, for energy, and it's high elevation," Painter says. "It's a prime location for solar energy."
So, how does a project of this magnitude get paid for? In September, of 2011, a $737 million loan from the Department of Energy and private financing made the dream of this facility a reality.
It's been a huge challenge," Painter says. "It is certainly a benefit from the Renewable Loan Guarantee Program. Otherwise, this sort of leading edge technology never gets to see the light of day."
During the build, more than 600 construction jobs will be created and 90 percent of those workers are guaranteed to be Nevadans. Once in operation, about 45 people will create green energy for hundreds of thousands of people, helping to meet the demand for clean and renewable energy.
Completion of the facility is expected later this year. In its first ten years of operation, it's expected to create over $37 million in tax revenue, along with around $750 million of private capital investment in the state of Nevada.