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Pilots hate glare from world’s biggest solar power farm

Solar receivers and boilers on top of two towers are reflected in heliostats at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System on March 3, 2014 in the Mojave Desert in California near Primm, Nevada.
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Solar receivers and boilers on top of two towers are reflected in heliostats at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System on March 3, 2014 in the Mojave Desert in California near Primm, Nevada.

Placing 173,500 garage door-sized mirrors near an airport might not be a great idea, according to complaints from pilots who have flown close to the world's largest solar electric plant and were blinded by the light.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is located in California's Ivanpah Dry Lake near the border with Nevada and about 40 miles from Las Vegas. The concentrated reflection from the panels has led pilots to file safety complaints about the blinding glare, according to reports in the Riverside Press-Enterprise and Quartz.

The mirrors focus the sunlight on towers with water-filled boilers that create steam and power turbines that generate 377 megawatts of carbon-free electricity, according to Quartz. While the pilots are only bothered by the light, birds in the area can't deal with the feather-melting heat.

Quartz reported: "'From the pilot's seat of my aircraft the brightness was like looking into the sun,' reported one pilot as his small plane climbed from 6,000 to 12,000 feet after taking off from the Boulder City, Nevada, airport. In a report he filed with the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), the pilot wrote that, '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.'"

Read the full story at the Riverside Press-Enterprise or Quartz.

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