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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Sci-fi thoughts
By NellyFromMA on 3/19/2014 11:20:17 AM , Rating: 2
What if in an effort to become green, save the planet and develop power plants such as this, we actually end up exacerbating "man-made climate change".

Just imagine, in this case, we are essentially diverting so much heat from its normal area of dissipation into a substantially concentrated area. Then as these plants become more and more common, they consume what was considered an 'infinite resource' and figure out not only is it finite in a given period of time, but actually induces climate change in an accelerated form from today's energy sources. What if winter's become harsher because we are leaching from the environment in a different way but we as a society become too afraid to challenge it for lack of alternatives in an economy that has completely shifted gears out of coal and into a green grid.

Haha, I've always kind of imagined that type of scenario with green energy (although, not the actually death of animal life as a result like in this case) so don't take it too seriously. However, I do think its not outside the realm of possibility.

RE: Sci-fi thoughts
By M'n'M on 3/19/2014 12:19:36 PM , Rating: 2
Not read Fallen Angels by Niven and Pournelle ?

RE: Sci-fi thoughts
By NellyFromMA on 3/19/2014 12:55:45 PM , Rating: 2
Haven't, but I'll have to look it up.

RE: Sci-fi thoughts
By tng on 3/19/2014 2:53:06 PM , Rating: 2
Not read Fallen Angels by Niven and Pournelle ?
Yes, good read and somewhat of a cautionary tale about the hubris of mankind, IMO.

RE: Sci-fi thoughts
By Jeffk464 on 3/19/2014 1:01:24 PM , Rating: 2
Shouldn't matter its the same amount of heat is being absorbed.

RE: Sci-fi thoughts
By JediJeb on 3/19/2014 1:48:33 PM , Rating: 2
Better yet, let's just build a bunch of these and direct the sunlight back out into space. That should keep the planet from absorbing the heat and counteract warming.

RE: Sci-fi thoughts
By Jeffk464 on 3/19/2014 1:57:12 PM , Rating: 2
There is talk about using white roofs in cities to help with the urban island heat effect. As far as manufacturing mirrors for this use, I'm sure the negatives would outweigh the positives.

RE: Sci-fi thoughts
By tng on 3/19/2014 2:57:42 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure the negatives would outweigh the positives.
I am thinking it would be a great idea that deals with GW directly... However lets list the negatives involved in putting mirrors on every roof.

1. The glare to pilots
2. Who pays for the material and install costs?
3. The UN/Al Gore can't make money from it.

RE: Sci-fi thoughts
By Dorkyman on 3/19/2014 3:44:07 PM , Rating: 2
This is an experiment that probably won't be replicated. Too little gain, too many drawbacks.

RE: Sci-fi thoughts
By Solandri on 3/19/2014 9:47:39 PM , Rating: 2
Mirrors are kinda overkill when white paint would be nearly as effective and much cheaper. Black actually doesn't absorb heat like conventional wisdom says. It acts more like a heat conductor - it both absorbs and radiates heat more rapidly. So during the day (when the outside his hotter), a black roof helps transfer heat from outside to inside. But during the night (when the outside is cooler), a black roof just hastens the heat loss into the night sky.

White acts like a heat insulator. So for the same reason an insulated house uses less energy than an uninsulated house, in most cases white is a better color choice than black/slate/grey. The only better choice would be a roof which changes color from black to white depending on the inside vs outside temperature.

The story is when Obama asked Steven Chu (Secretary of Energy until 2013) what's the best way for the country to save energy, Chu replied we should paint our roofs white. Chu is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. He knows what he's talking about. I'm almost certain that Obama's reserved reaction to the Fukushima disaster was because Chu convinced him that nuclear energy would be crucial to help wean us off of fossil fuels.

RE: Sci-fi thoughts
By FaaR on 3/19/2014 3:17:17 PM , Rating: 3
What if in an effort to become green, save the planet and develop power plants such as this, we actually end up exacerbating "man-made climate change".

How on earth do you figure? This facility simply re-focuses sunlight which has already struck our planet. There's no net gain whatsoever.

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