Delta Solar Ruins – Hinckley, Utah - Atlas Obscura
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Hinckley, Utah

Delta Solar Ruins

A shady solar power system that couldn't hold up to the harsh desert conditions. 

Along a lonely stretch of Utah desert there stand the skeletal remains of an ambitious and corrupt attempt at tax fraud, dressed up as an alternative form of alternative energy. 

Conventional solar energy collection is generally done via the use of fragile and expensive solar panels which require a great deal of time to collect energy in relation to the amount of usable energy returned. However the engineers with the Delta solar project proposed a new way to harness the sun’s energy using cheaper materials and a much more basic principle. Using satellite-like arrays that would follow the arc of the sun during the day, cheap plastic panels impregnated with magnifying elements would shoot intensified rays of sunlight into a crucible of combustible material which in turn created steam to power a generator. This Rube Goldberg-ian solution to harnessing the sun’s energies may have been more complicated than standard solar panels, but the low cost of the materials supposedly made it a viable option. Unfortunately, even the rugged plastics and metals used in the Delta array were no match for the strong desert winds which quickly damaged most of the collectors that the engineers were able to install.

This elaborate project was deemed a fraud in 2018, and the company which produced them was fined some 50 million dollars.

Still, the remains of the array remain at the site, rusty and gutted. Many of the plastic panels are hanging from their ends or are missing completely. Fans of civil experiments can easily access the ruins and see the skeletal collectors up close.   

Know Before You Go

Follow signs towards the Topaz Internment Camp; the solar installation is to the south--look for a few dozen massive posts sticking up from the otherwise barren ground.

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