If you go to Las Vegas, it is sure you will have a great time. But if you have enough time, I recommendo you to visit the Hoover Dam and Nevada Solar One.
The two plants are a very good examples of how we can obtain energy for free. In fact both plants are distant only 10 miles, and are two examples of how Americans can be the leaders if they want.
Hoover Dam was built in 1936 during the Great Depression, (in Spain we have finishing our inglorious war by the time), and cost over 100 lives. It was named in honor of President Herbert Hoover. It is placed between Arizona and Nevada, in fact there are different times zones in each side of the dam¡
The size of the canon is awesome and the construction is anyway beautiful. The two jet-flow gates are one of the most well-known images of hydraulic engineering of the world. By the time of constructuion, such a large concrete structure had never been built before, and some of the techniques were unproven, so they was pioneers in the engineering limits.
The maximun capacity of the power plant is 2080MW, amazing¡ The intakes provide a maximum hydraulic head (water pressure) of 590 ft (180 m) as the water reaches a speed of about 85 mph (140 km/h). The entire flow of the Colorado River passes through the turbines.
In the other side, Nevada Solar One is also a type of innovation. It is a Concentrate Solar Power Plant built and operate by a Spanish Company, Acciona, and it represent the first big CSP facility built after the Kramer Junction plants in the 80’s. It was finished in 2007 and has a capacity of 64MW.
When I visited it, I felt like in a museum of energy enginnering. It was an absolutely honor to stay so close of one of the plant I have much admired before. This plant sells its electricity to Arizona Public Service (APS), which is estimated to be 134 million kilowatt hours per year. The CO2 emissions avoided is equivalent to taking approximately 20,000 cars off the road annually.The project required an investment of $266 million USD.
These two plants are the best example of the human willing to dominate the forces of nature to do whatever we want.