Along a lonely stretch of Utah desert there stand the skeletal remains of an ambitious, if ultimately futile, attempt at 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 developed a new way to harness the sun’s energy using cheaper materials and a much more basic principle. Using satellite-like arrays which 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 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.
The remains of the array still stand at the site, rusty and gutted. Many of the plastic panels are hanging from their ends or are missing completely. Fans of ambitious 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.