Pilots Say Glare from Ivanpah Solar Plant is Blinding Them
March 19, 2014 8:36 AM
comment(s) - last by
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."
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RE: No fly zone?
3/20/2014 12:09:50 AM
Doesn't matter, they're practically the same gross weight and speed of a modern airliner. Since the 60's there isn't much you can do to improve service ceilings and top speed of commuter aircraft. They're basically limited to ~40,000 feet and ~700mph due to haul pressurization issues and sound barrier limitations.
In fact, most modern aircraft are lighter than their predecessors to increase fuel economy. Carbon fiber wasn't around in the 50's and 60's, and although it often weighs more than 7000 aluminum, its stronger, so less material is required for the same strength.
Fit's point is valid. Modern nuclear plants will withstand direct hits from large aircraft with minimal risk of meltdown. We're talking 3 feet thick concrete barriers with multi-layered rebar. The twin towers were 90% glass exterior (the windows were load baring) with the majority of the structure support in the center, which eventually fatigued from heat.
I don't remember who said it, but I remember reading a famous quote from the DoE once:
It takes nuclear power to take out nuclear power.
The obvious recent exception is Fukushima, which should have never happened. It was 100% preventable and caused entirely by human error and penny pinching, not a tsunami or earthquake. Nuclear power plants have never been disrupted in history by either because there are numerous systems to protect them from those exact events.
"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
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