(Image: William Hanlon; Delta Solar Project abandoned photovoltaic power station)
There are many unusual places in America’s remote western deserts, from shadowy military installations to the ruins of long-abandoned ghost towns. Out in the wilds of Utah’s Millard County, a place where you might find isolated road signs riddled with bullet holes, stands a curious collection of ruins that could almost have been a set from a Star Wars movie. They are, in fact, the remains of alternative energy arrays developed for the Delta Solar Project.
(Image: William Hanlon; defunct solar arrays)
The abandoned solar farm is marked by almost 20 neglected metal posts which emerge from the arid ground. They can be found along a lonely stretch of road to the south-east of the infamous Topaz War Relocation Center, where 11,212 immigrants and Americans of Japanese descent were interned during World War Two.
(Image: William Hanlon; the abandoned solar farm near Delta, Utah)
According to Atlas Obscura, the Delta Energy Project was an ambitious research programme to harness the sun’s rays using a more basic principle and cheaper materials than the expensive panels relied on in conventional solar collection.
(Image: William Hanlon; rusting arrays at the abandoned solar park)
The website writes: “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.”
(Image: William Hanlon)
It became apparent, however, that strong winds and other harsh desert weather conditions would soon take their toll on the inexpensive plastic collectors. As a result, the derelict collectors of the Delta Solar Project have become yet another offbeat attraction along the remote roadsides of America‘s Old West.
(Image: William Hanlon; the abandoned solar park can be seen from the roadside)
Google Street View hasn’t made it out to the abandoned solar farm yet, but armchair drivers and rural explorers can see it from above, here. Though named after the city of Delta, Utah to the east, the nearest settlement is actually the small farming community of Hinkley, which retells the history of the area at the Great Basin Museum.
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