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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RE: No fly zone?
By DT_Reader on 3/19/2014 12:00:31 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps; they could at least warn pilots in advance. But what I don't understand is why there's any glare at all. Isn't the reflected sunlight directed at the towers, not the sky?

If it's a case where the plant doesn't run in the early morning/late afternoon because of the sun's angle, could they turn the mirrors in random directions so that they're not all reflecting toward the same patch of sky? That way it wouldn't look like one giant mirror from overhead, more like a mirror ball where you only get a direct reflection from a few panels at a time as you fly over.

And haven't these pilots ever dealt with glare off a lake?

RE: No fly zone?
By Jaguar36 on 3/19/2014 12:50:52 PM , Rating: 2
There shouldn't be any glare at all. I bet this was occurring before the plant was operational and the mirrors were not focused yet.

RE: No fly zone?
By Jeffk464 on 3/19/2014 12:55:29 PM , Rating: 2
yup, the mirrors should be focused on the towers not the sky.

RE: No fly zone?
By Bad-Karma on 3/19/2014 1:30:21 PM , Rating: 3
Actually it's the towers themselves in addition to some leakage from the mirrors that are blinding the pilots. There are some good photos of it that the pilots have turned in:

RE: No fly zone?
By Jeffk464 on 3/19/2014 1:58:46 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I've driven past this plant when it was operational and saw how bright the towers are. I guess I'm not as namby pamby as the pilots though, I thought it looked pretty cool.

RE: No fly zone?
By Dorkyman on 3/19/2014 3:42:03 PM , Rating: 2
It's not the tower that's so bright, but the mirrors immediately behind the tower when viewed from the air. I've seen this for myself when I flew by a much-smaller version near Tonopah Nevada several decades ago. It's very much like looking at the sun. So don't look at it, but also realize that you can't see anything coming at you from that general direction, either.

RE: No fly zone?
By Jeffk464 on 3/19/2014 12:53:37 PM , Rating: 1
Or how about sunglasses.

RE: No fly zone?
By Bad-Karma on 3/19/2014 1:34:27 PM , Rating: 2
There are NOTAMS out there about the plant. problem is that it really can not be avoided. due to air traffic control and approach lanes in the area.

Glare from a lake is nothing like the focused energy the plant is putting off.

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