Ivanpah solar thermal plant blinding pilots, scorching birds

Credit: ivanpahsolar.com/
Credit: ivanpahsolar.com/

The recently opened, ginormous Ivanpah solar thermal plant in California near Primm NV is a hazard, says airplane pilots. Ivanpah uses huge mirrors to reflect heat from the sun to a central tower to power turbines. The glare is so pronounced that pilots say it was hugely distracting, even blinding.

“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,” reported an air traffic controller at a FAA center that monitors the airspace in southern California. A pilot of a commercial jetliner told him the light reflected from the Ivanpah mirrors “was nearly blinding.”

In addition, birds have been killed by having their feathers burned off.

Of 34 birds reported dead or injured at Ivanpah in September, 15 had melted feathers. Dozens of other bird carcasses, not singed but with critical injuries, have been found in recent months at two solar projects about to go online on public land between Joshua Tree National Park and Blythe, Calif.,

Regulatory authorities have been curiously slow in reporting this, much less taking action.