Las Vegas and Lake Mead, United States
This Landsat-8 satellite image, acquired on 23 September 2014, shows Nevada and Arizona, in the southwest United States.
Las Vegas with its grid-like urban plan is visible near the centre. Sitting in a basin of the Mojave Desert, the city is surrounded by a number of mountain ranges.
Zooming in southeast of the city we can see large, dark shapes in one of the desert valleys. These are solar panels of a large-scale plant called Nevada Solar One. The plant harnesses enough energy to power an estimated 14,000 homes a year.
Satellites can assist in the selection of sites of solar power plants by providing sunshine maps that combine information on overall solar irradiance and average cloudiness. Along with other space-derived products such as digital elevation models, this can help sustainable energy companies pinpoint areas best suited for exploiting solar energy.
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