Pilots Say Glare from Ivanpah Solar Plant is Blinding Them
March 19, 2014 8:36 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
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."
"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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