Pilots Blinded by Solar Panels in Southern California

Sunday, 20 Jul 2014 08:42 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Intense glare from California's Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in San Bernardino County could be endangering air traffic between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Breitbart  reported.

A July 17 study by the Sandia National Laboratories indicated that mirrored heliostats, used to generate solar energy at the 397-megawatt power plant, causes glare when the panels are in "standby" mode, according to KCET.

The federal lab report, "Evaluation of Glare at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System," indicated that when the heliostats are aimed directly at the sky, not at the boilers, they "can cause visual afterimages for observers as distant as six miles from the power plant."

Raising the danger of midair collisions, pilots have complained that glare from the mirrors was making it difficult to look out for other nearby aircraft, KCET reported.

Experienced pilots have described the glare as unusually bright and widespread, according to Breitbart.

There are some 120 weekly commercial flights between McCarran Airport outside Las Vegas and Los Angeles-area airports in addition to private air traffic, KCET reported.

In response to inquiries from the Las Vegas airport authorities, Energy Services which owns Ivanpah wrote that as more of the panels are calibrated and repositioned the glare should be lessened.

The California Energy Commission is expected to hold hearing in Blythe, Ca. between July 29-31 on the even bigger Palen Solar Electric Generating System in Riverside County  which now awaiting regulatory approval.

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