According to a report filed recently with the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), the glare from a major solar power plant in the US has been blinding some pilots that have been flying over the area.
As Quartz reports, the problem is coming from the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. It is situated on the border between California and Nevada. The solar plant is the largest on the planet. The affected pilots have been complaining that the light that reflects off of the solar panels and on to 500-foot towers, poses a significant safety risk, although it allegedly has taken months for those reports to get to the appropriate authorities.
One pilot claimed in the report, “From the pilot’s seat of my aircraft the brightness was like looking into the sun.” He described the reflection as “a hazard to flight because for a brief time I could not scan the sky in that direction to look for other aircraft.” An air traffic controller has added that other pilots have also filed similar complaints. One such complaint described the glare as “nearly blinding.”
These complaints against the solar array were first filed back in August 2013, but it has taken approximately six months for them to be read by California Energy Commission. The CEC is the regulatory body that are charged with overseeing Ivanpah.
New Jersey-based energy firm NRG Energy is one of the main investors in Ivanpah, along with Google. NRG are the plant operators and they have said the company is looking into the matter, although it did note that the complaints were filed at the time when Ivanpah’s heliostats were still in the testing phase and before the solar facility became fully operational.
NRG Energy spokesman Jeff Holland told Quartz, “What I can tell you right now is that we take these concerns seriously…We will respond to and address these reports in the coming days in accordance with conditions of our permits.”
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[Image via greenzone]