Print 60 comment(s) - last by overlandpark4m.. on Mar 25 at 2:51 AM

It's unclear what, if anything can be done

The largest thermal solar electricity plant in the world went live this year in the U.S. The $2.2 billion Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is located on the California Nevada Border and has already come under fire for killing birds. The intense heat from the solar plant has literally scorched birds in mid-flight.

Airline pilots are now complaining that they are being blinded by the intense sunlight that reflects off the 340,000 mirrors used at the plant. While the aircraft are flying far enough above the towers and mirrors that heat isn't an issue, the glare is a problem.

One pilot of a small aircraft filed a report with the Aviation Safety Reporting System, complaining:
From the pilot’s seat of my aircraft the brightness was like looking into the sun. In my opinion, the reflection from these mirrors was a hazard to flight because for a brief time I could not scan the sky in that direction to look for other aircraft.
One FAA air traffic controller working in southern California added, "Daily, during the late morning and early afternoon hours we get complaints from pilots of aircraft flying from the northeast to the southwest about the brightness of this solar farm."

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System 
Perhaps the most unsettling part of these reports is that it took months for them to reach the California Energy Commission that oversees Ivanpah. The reports were filed in August 2013 and didn’t reach the CEC until March 10, 2014.
“What I can tell you right now is that we take these concerns seriously,” Jeff Holland, a spokesman for NRG Energy, which is operating Ivanpah said. He noted, "We will respond to—and address—these reports in the coming days in accordance with conditions of our permits."

Source: QZ

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shut it down?
By AntiM on 3/19/2014 10:47:13 AM , Rating: 2
What does the FAA expect the California Energy Commission to do about it? Shut down a 2 billion dollar project? Shouldn't the pilots be wearing anti-glare sunglasses? Maybe they could fly a different route during the hours when the glare is the worse?

RE: shut it down?
By amanojaku on 3/19/2014 11:44:26 AM , Rating: 2
Because the needs of the country (transcontinental travel) outweigh the wants of the state ("green" power).

I'm sure pilots have already tried sun shields and anti-glare glasses. Pilots of small planes and commercial flights have complained about this for eight months, after all. Even a passenger (an air traffic controller for the Aviation Safety Reporting System) said it was a distraction. The glare must be pretty bad since passengers don't have to look out the windows. And don't even think about rerouting planes. That's complicated, and it would add to fuel costs (and higher ticket prices for commercial flights).

RE: shut it down?
By DT_Reader on 3/19/2014 12:06:01 PM , Rating: 1
I think we need clean power far more than we "need" fast transcontinental travel. Note that we have lots of ways to travel transcontinental, from automobiles to Amtrak to airlines. Automobiles and Amtrak have to route around lakes and mountains; airlines can route around solar plants. Flying a bit out of the way of this plant won't delay your transcontinental flight very much at all.

RE: shut it down?
By Jeffk464 on 3/19/2014 2:01:43 PM , Rating: 2
Oh come on the FAA is going to tell the pilots to put their big boy pants on and quit whining.

RE: shut it down?
By SPOOFE on 3/19/2014 5:14:19 PM , Rating: 2
I think we need clean power far more than we "need" fast transcontinental travel.

We HAVE clean power, that is proven and can supply far more power, mire reliably, than solar. It's called "nuclear power" and for some reason the Greenies don't want to use it.

RE: shut it down?
By Strunf on 3/20/2014 9:36:15 AM , Rating: 2
I don't see why the small commercial planes should get the priority over this power plant and I doubt when you travel at the high altitude the normal commercial planes travel it would be a problem for them.

RE: shut it down?
By FITCamaro on 3/19/2014 12:21:36 PM , Rating: 2
Why not? They've shut down plenty of other industries in this country for environmental reasons.

RE: shut it down?
By Bad-Karma on 3/19/2014 1:37:27 PM , Rating: 2
It isn't just there eyes. When that much light comes into the cockpit it bounces around and literally lights up the entire cockpit. At that point you can no longer make out your instruments, sun glasses or not.

RE: shut it down?
By tng on 3/19/2014 3:03:15 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe they could fly a different route during the hours when the glare is the worse?
Not easy to do really. Most approach and exit routes to large metro areas and the airports that serve them are laid out so that there is no interference with each other. Shifting them permanently would be an issue and shifting them a couple times a day would be a nightmare.

RE: shut it down?
By HomerTNachoCheese on 3/19/2014 4:33:12 PM , Rating: 2
Do they not have polarized sunglasses? Those should greatly reduce the glare.

RE: shut it down?
By geekman1024 on 3/19/2014 9:37:55 PM , Rating: 2
Nooooooo! They can't shut it down, else my Courier won't be able to finish the Helios quest!!

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