A birds-eye view of the bird scorching Ivanpah solar electric power plant

At the start of the weekend, and quite by accident, I found myself aloft and looking directly into the glare of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. I can tell you that not only does it roast birds in mid-air, it certainly seems to be a hazard to aviation. First, a story today from AP, via my local newspaper. Photos follow.

Emerging desert solar plants scorch birds in midair-Chico Enterprise-Record

There are roughly 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in Primm, Nev. New estimates for the Ivanpah solar plant, an innovative year-old $2.2 billion solar project with Google as a major investor, say thousands of birds are dying yearly, roasted by the concentrated sun rays from the mirrors. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

IVANPAH DRY LAKE (AP) >> Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — “streamers,” for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair.

Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version.

The investigators want the halt until the full extent of the deaths can be assessed. Estimates per year now range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.

The deaths are “alarming. It’s hard to say whether that’s the location or the technology,” said Garry George, renewable-energy director for the California chapter of the Audubon Society. “There needs to be some caution.”

The bird kills mark the latest instance in which the quest for clean energy sometimes has inadvertent environmental harm. Solar farms have been criticized for their impacts on desert tortoises, and wind farms have killed birds, including numerous raptors.

“We take this issue very seriously,” said Jeff Holland, a spokesman for NRG Solar of Carlsbad, the second of the three companies behind the plant. The third, Google, deferred comment to its partners.

The $2.2 billion plant, which launched in February, is at Ivanpah Dry Lake near the California-Nevada border. The operator says it is the world’s biggest plant to employ so-called power towers.

More than 300,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door, reflect solar rays onto three boiler towers each looming up to 40 stories high. The water inside is heated to produce steam, which turns turbines that generate enough electricity for 140,000 homes.

Sun rays sent up by the field of mirrors are bright enough to dazzle pilots flying in and out of Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Full story here: http://www.chicoer.com/breakingnews/ci_26357771/emerging-desert-solar-plants-scorch-birds-midair

===============================================================

I drove to the Heartland ICCC9 conference in Las Vegas, NV, (my “Big Oil” charter jet never showed up) taking the US395 route through Nevada on the way to the conference, but on the return trip, I took the Interstate 15 to SR58 route to Bakersfield, and that had me drive by the Ivanpah Solar Power plant. I had never seen the desert air glow before in broad daylight, so I stopped to take some photos.

Here is the view from Interstate-15 looking west at the southernmost tower:

Ivanpah_closeup_tower

And here are all three solar towers from the same vantage point:

Ivanpah_all_towers

Click the images for full size ones to see details.

I have to say it was an eerie sight seeing the air glow that electric blue color like you see on carbon-arc searchlights at night, but instead being visible during the day. The amount of power being concentrated in the air is quite impressive.

Dr. Roy Spencer also took photos and wrote about the Ivanpah Solar power system when he drove out of Las Vegas leaving the ICCC9 conference. He got closer than I did and beat me to the story, so I never published my photos, figuring there was little I could improve upon.

On Friday, in the early afternoon, coming back from a work related trip in Florida, I found myself having a short layover in Las Vegas, to connect to my flight to Sacramento. I’ve flown the Vegas to Sacramento route dozens of times, and so there is little I haven’t seen on the ground from that vantage point, so I didn’t even bother looking out the window. I was reading a book.

I was surprised all of the sudden when the cabin was briefly lit up by a flash, and I thought to myself that we must have passed some air traffic pretty darn close and gotten a sun glint off the aircraft, looking out the window, I discovered I was being dazzled from the ground, and then I knew what it was.

I got up to get my cell phone/camera out of my laptop bag in the overhead, and was griping to myself, “c’mon, c’mon, BOOT dammit!” waiting for Android to load. By the time I was able to get the camera app running the glare had passed, and all I got was a couple of photos like this one:

Ivanpah_from_air

I gotta tell you, for a moment, it felt like we were in full glare. And I think that if I had my camera ready at that instant when the angles all conspired to illuminate our aircraft, all I would have gotten was a screen of white, much like this one taken by Sandia Labs during a study:

ivanpah-glare-7-17-14-thumb-600x395-77670[1]

Photo of the glare from the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, taken from an airliner approximately 40 miles away | Photo: Mike Pasqualetti, Arizona State University, via Sandia National Laboratories

No wonder pilots hate this thing. I can imagine there must be other sun angle/flight path scenarios where it was even worse than the flash we experienced, which was about 5 seconds or less.

Interestingly, the Sandia National Laboratory is developing a 3D mapping tool to help predict glare from this thing, as seen below:

3D-glare-tool-1[1]

They purposely flew into the glare and report:

Ivanpah-glare-photo[1]

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) consists of three 459-ft-tall power towers and over 170,000 reflective heliostats with a rated capacity of 390 MW. The California Energy Commission (CEC) has received numerous pilot and air traffic controller glare-impact reports. The situation is serious because pilots report that they cannot “scan the sky in that direction to look for other aircraft.” According to an air traffic controller, “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.”

Some Ivanpah heliostats are moved to standby mode in which they reflect light to the side of the tower to reduce sunlight being pointed at the tower’s receivers. Aerial and ground-based surveys of the glare were conducted in April, 2014, to identify the cause and to quantify the irradiance and potential ocular impacts of the glare.

Sandia’s report concluded the glare from those standby heliostats could cause “significant ocular impact” at a distance of six miles. Ivanpah operators BrightSource and NRG are investigating new strategies and algorithms for heliostat standby positions to reduce the irradiance and number of heliostats that can reflect light to an aerial observer, and pilots have been warned of the issue.

Source: http://energy.sandia.gov/?p=19782

 

 

 

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181 thoughts on “A birds-eye view of the bird scorching Ivanpah solar electric power plant

  1. 300,000 computer controlled mirrors? So thats 600,000 motors to allow full tracking of the sun. That’s a lot of copper, steel, magnets, brass, eletronics etc etc…

  2. They should add wind turbines around the edges to prevent birds from being fried by the concentrated solar reflections … much more humane … /sarc

  3. Perhaps The Ohio State University could get a grant to determine what is burning all of those birds. The expertise and experience they gained on their study of the effects of dried-out streams and rivers on fish should make them prime candidates to win such a grant.

  4. There’s a trade off with EVERY energy source. Nothing has surpassed petroleum for cost and availability yet. The Ivanpah site does look other worldly from the highway when you pass it.

  5. I also was startled by seeing intense glare from the Ivanpah solar plant on a flight to the ICCC conference in Vegas, even though the plane was flying at least 30 miles away I’d estimate from the mirrors. Why didn’t anyone think of the risks to aviation & wildlife before this $2.2 billion plant was built?

    Published yesterday in the Contra Costa Times:

    Emerging solar plants scorch birds in mid-air

    http://www.contracostatimes.com/environment/ci_26355983/emerging-solar-plants-scorch-birds-mid-air

    “Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version.

    The investigators want the halt until the full extent of the deaths can be assessed. Estimates per year now range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.

    The deaths are “alarming. It’s hard to say whether that’s the location or the technology,” said Garry George, renewable-energy director for the California chapter of the Audubon Society. “There needs to be some caution.”

  6. Funny, that 140,000 homes number.

    Seems like that is assuming 100% power at 100% maximum solar energy delivered (at 1 hour per day) and under completely clear skies. Pick a different day, you get a lower solar elevation angle, you get less power. Pick a different hour of the day, you get a lower solar elevation angle, and you get less power. Pick any day with cloud cover, you get less power.

    We can build a 650 MegaWatt gas turbine power plant on 10 acres under one roof.

    And run it 24 hours per day 365 days per year.

  7. I have an idea. One could use an alternative source of energy. The source could be a combustible material such as coal, gas, or oil. The energy produced by combustion could be contained in a vessel. A coil of tubes with water being pumped through them could be in the vessel to transfer the heat to the water and the water converted to steam, which could then drive the turbines which would drive the electrical generators.. That way, the energy would all be contained in a vessel, pipes, and tubes so as not to injure people or animals.

  8. So why the reflection to begin with?

    That is a bunch of energy escaping that could be redirected.

    Just sayin, that energy could certainly generate localized heat. Isn’t that what the whole thing is supposed to do efficiently?

  9. Why haven’t bright source updated their bird death estimate? If they are seeing a streamer every 2 mins (probably more as its a big area) thats 150 birds a day over the 5hr operational period, 37500 birds a year if they run 250 days as some estimates suggest.

    Surely this warrants investigation by the EPA as their bird death estimate is fraudulently low 2.7% of estimate calculated from actual data.

  10. Hockey Schtick says:
    August 18, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    Published yesterday in the Contra Costa Times:

    “Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes,

    Gosh, that reads just like the AP story quoted in the main post. :-)

  11. Where were the modelers, who could have predicted these dangerous visual effects? Or, perhaps their files been lost?

  12. “Hockey Schtick says:

    August 18, 2014 at 7:51 pm”

    I have a mate who works for the New Zealand Govn’t in negotiating air routes. He jokes that there was a plan to install a new safety device in the cockpit on aircraft. It was a pitbull terrier to keep the pilots away from the controls. But seriously, once auto pilot is engaged…

  13. Here’s a quote from a current alarmist CBC news item:

    In 2010, a study estimated that about 2,000 birds die per year in Alberta oilsands tailings ponds. That year, oilsands company Syncrude paid a $3-million fine for the deaths of 1,600 ducks at one of its tailings ponds in 2008.

    This is supposed to be demonstrating the horrors and horrific nature of the oil industry.

    To REALLY slaughter birds in quantity takes environmentalists, and alternative energy sources.

    They can’t feel shame. They don’t know what that even means.

  14. Dead birds are a sign of green energy. All to save us from the created issue of global warming. With the Obama administration handing out the tax credits imagine how many dead birds we can pile up.

  15. Average one bird every two minutes, that’s 30 per hour, times what, 10 hours per day of enough sun to do this. That’s 300 birds per day. Simple arithmetic gets this to 109,500 birds per year. So either the estimates by the operators and enviros are completely wrong, or the 2 minute estimate is way off. I wonder which it is?

  16. What with the ability of the US to now watch a ping pong ball in Beijing the US could trial radar to detect approaching bird flights, particularly on migration.
    Then with a fuzzy logic software package switch off the heat ray that is aimed at the approaching wildlife.
    I expect that the Greens will immediately promote this as a way to prevent ecocide once bigger and more powerful collectors are placed in wilderness areas.

  17. If we could get more people involved with the feral cat population situation we could offset the flaming bird and wind turbine issue

    Problem solved ;0)

  18. If evil petroleum companies were doing this to birds, there would already be a sequel to “Silent Spring” at the publishers.

  19. Well all it needs is a private plane to go down, eh. Luckily two planned solar farms in NSW have quit because of the uncertainty of the market.

  20. I’ve been through the glare field of a smaller prototype of those things back in the 90′s, and they really are a hazard to flight. They light up the cockpit like an arc light, and you can’t look in that direction until you get past the mirrors.

    Kinda hard on birds, too, but hey, as we used to say in the Air Force, you gotta expect losses in a big operation.

  21. CSP will never be competitive, dead birds now withstanding.

    This is what happens when your nuclear plants hit their design life limits.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/18/us-europe-nuclear-power-insight-idUSKBN0GH05U20140818

    Looks like there are going to be a lot of new coal fired power plants coming online in a few years.

    Of course if you don’t want to wait 10 years to build a couple of 1 GW reactors you might try building a few coal fired base load plants and install a few gigawatts of solar in 6-14 months.
    Solar Boom Drives First Global Panel Shortage Since 2006.

    http://www.newsmax.com/Finance/solar-boom-panel-shortage/2014/08/18/id/589506/

    All the above is applies only to non US electrical production. The US solar market will hit the wall in 2016 when the 30% tax credit expires. No way solar can compete without those tax credits.

  22. Google sells us out for profit and kills birds for fun.
    @ John says:
    August 18, 2014 at 8:26 pm
    I have cats as pets, but your idea made me think of using cats as targets for the mirrors to scare away birds like feline scare crows streaking through the sky. A new version of “101 Uses For a Dead Cat”.

  23. Those birds probably aren’t just sparrows–they may include a considerable number of raptors.

  24. I wonder if the birds are attracted by the glare. If so, that would explain why the high kill rate wasn’t foreseen.

  25. The play of light on the mirrors may look like sunlight on water to the birds, attracting them to their doom from a considerable distance.

  26. I wonder what the tipping point is for a facility like this?
    If it were 100 times bigger would the concentration of light reach a level that would produce something more harmful?

    Suppose the entire set up were programmed to aim one beam out into space through the atmosphere. Would that be harmful to the atmosphere and how far away would it be seen from?
    The moon? Mars?

  27. All the downstream glare comes from light that misses the collector due to the unfocused light from flat mirrors. Enlarging the collector area would help, or maybe putting up a backdrop curtain reflector to bounce that light back to the collector.

    That doesn’t help the bird problem, though. Maybe a roadside KFC serving mixed grill.

  28. Can we have some simple figures on this scam. For example, using the gas turbine plant quoted, how much did that cost, what is the fuel cost. to generate the same amount of power you need at least three of these bird grill plants, thus the capital cost is three times higher again for the same output.

    How much water does it use. Yes some can be recycled but a lot boils off. How do they stop sand scour?. How much maintenance do those 600,000 motors take?

    6.6 billion, how much is the cost of capital?

  29. Roasts birds in flight.

    Makes you wonder what would happen if nasty minded people gained control and aimed the reflections at aircraft.

  30. Out of curiosity has anybody determined just how much heat this thing pumps into the surrounding air. Would it be greater or less than the theoretical heat trapping CO2 emitted from a natural gas fired plant. Note: I wrote theoretical heat trapping CO2. I don’t think those birds will tell you the heat from this plant is theoretical.

  31. “The Ivanpah Solar Cooking System” Their motto must be if it flies, it fries.

    Which doesn’t count near miss birds that are only blinded.

    Ivanpah Solar is a five-mile field of mirrors. Crisped birds include:
    Yellow-rumped Warbler and MacGillivray’s Warbler

    Anyone who could possibly see all streamers across a five mile field has incredible eyesight. More likely, they’re only spotting the larger birds which do not include the above warblers.

    Light that intense can permanently blind birds, (also pilots and passengers).

    Yup, enviro’s and eco-loons like their free range meat flash toasted; for the good of the Earth of course.

  32. This story is a red herring…a transparent attempt by Deniers to deny the plain science. Those birds are not being fried by the power plant. No! What nonsense. They are being combusted in mid-air by global warming itself. They use their last bit of strength to fly to the plant hoping their smoking corpses will be noticed by a caring environmentalist. It is indeed worse than we thought.

  33. “””””…..The bird kills mark the latest instance in which the quest for clean energy sometimes has inadvertent environmental harm. Solar farms have been criticized for their impacts on desert tortoises, and wind farms have killed birds, including numerous raptors……”””””

    In NO way, is this environmental harm “inadvertent.” It’s as advertent as it could be.

    The whole aim of these reflector farms, is to produce as many “suns” EM energy density, at the thermal collector as possible. Depending on the focal length of each mirror, the sun’s 0.5 degree angular diameter, will produce a sun image about 1/120th of the distance from mirror to tower, at the tower location.

    At the tower, even one mirror spot will fry a bird; maybe even vaporize it.

    All of this could have been calculated before they kicked over the first clod of desert dirt, to build this contraption.. Each mirror has to be fully steerable, so they have to be widely spaced, so they don’t shadow each other from dawn to dusk.

    As a result, you probably can generate more energy in that space, by having minimum wage laborers riding stationary bikes driving alternators; maybe two feet apart, side to side, and five feet front to back. It would be good exercise too. The Tour de France Peloton, could train there..

    Talk about a fiasco. Did anybody ever mention, that putting a lot of energy in a small space is darn dangerous. Gasoline, is about the safest way to do it, and it works very well.

  34. John says: August 18, 2014 at 8:26 pm
    “If we could get more people involved with the feral cat population situation we could offset the flaming bird and wind turbine issue Problem solved ;0)”

    But first you have to built large catapults to throw the feral cats past the heat collectors, through the high temperature light field. Then instead of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Sparrow or Warbler, you can have Kentucky Fried Cat.

  35. Here is the text that the FAA is giving to pilots, warning them of this hazard to aviation. This comes from a standard flight briefing I pulled today. I have redacted an FAA telephone number as “xxx-xxx-xxxx” just because it seemed prudent.

    !FDC 4/1273 ZLA PART 1 OF 2 CA..AIRSPACE IVANPAH DRY LAKE, CA. SOLAR
    POWERPLANT
    GLARE THE LAS VEGAS / LAS / VORTAC 193 RADIAL RADIAL 36 NAUTICAL
    MILES TO THE LAS VEGAS / LAS / VORTAC 189 RADIAL RADIAL 34 NAUTICAL
    MILES. THIS PLANT COVERS APPROXIMATELY 3,500 ACRES WEST OF INTERSTATE
    HIGHWAY 15 NEAR THE CALIFORNIA-NEVADA STATE LINE WITH ROUGHLY
    175,000 MIRRORS SURROUNDING EACH OF THREE COLLECTION TOWERS. THESE
    TOWERS EMPLOYE A NEW TECHNOLOGY THAT HAS NOT BEEN UTILIZED AT THIS
    LEVEL BEFORE, CREATING A SOLAR GLARE EFFECT IN THE AIRCRAFT.
    LOS ANGELES AIR ROUTE TRAFFIC CONTROL CENTER (ARTCC) AND LAS VEGAS
    TERMINAL RADAR APPROACH CONTROL (TRACON) BEGAN RECEIVING NUMEROUS
    PILOT REPORTS OF GLARE ASSOCIATED WITH THE POWERPLANT SINCE THE
    FACILITY BEGAN PRODUCTION.
    TO APPROPRIATELY DOCUMENT THESE CONDITIONS, PILOTS AND OTHER AIR CREW
    MEMBERS ARE URGED TO UTILIZE NASA’S AVIATION SAFETY REPORTING SYSTEM
    (ASRS) AND PROVIDE AN ELECTRONIC REPORT SUBMISSION (ERS) VIA THE WEB
    AT http://ASRS.ARC.NASA.GOV/REPORT/ELECTRONIC/HTML
    SOLAR POWERPLANT GLARE MAY BE INJURIOUS TO PILOTS’/PASSENGERS’
    1406201945-1412310600EST
    END PART 1 OF 2

    !FDC 4/1273 ZLA PART 2 OF 2 CA..AIRSPACE
    EYES FROM SURFACE TO UNLIMITED ALITITUDE FROM GLARE SOURCE. FLASH
    BLINDNESS OR COCKPIT ILLUMINATION MAY
    OCCUR. LOS ANGELES ARTCC (ZLA) TELEPHONE xxx-xxx-xxxx IS THE FAA
    COORDINATION FACILITY.
    1406201945-1412310600EST
    END PART 2 OF 2

  36. Truthseeker says:
    August 18, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    adding the wind turbines would make sure any birds that got through, still got chopped by a blade.
    I figure at night the coyotes must have quite a feast of cooked bird.

    I am sure that if they just let this thing run for a few years the local bird population of raptors, buzzards, crows, etc will fall so low numbers that the bird rate death per day will be miniscule. Then the operators can claim success.

  37. “So why the reflection to begin with? That is a bunch of energy escaping that could be redirected.”

    I suppose the collector is metal because of high thermal conductivity. But metals have low emissivity so they reflect light. Painting it black will increase emissivity but the paint will melt. Possible solution, oxide the metal. Rust will increase emissivity.

  38. CodeTech says:
    August 18, 2014 at 8:26 pm
    Simple arithmetic gets this to 109,500 birds per year.
    =========================================================
    Look on the bright side. After a year or two the death rate should show a sharp decline. Although there might be a sharp increase in bugs depending on where one lives.

  39. I’ve had it up my eyeballs with ‘unanticipated consequences.’ This was discussed as well as anticipated…

  40. Oh, well, they are not going to shut it down for just a few bird deaths. But it might give animal rights people something to think about?

  41. @ hunter
    August 18, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Driving around picking up dead cats to save birds is a great idea, and the fact that we would be recycling the aforementioned cats should go over big with the green crowd too.

    But I had another good idea that is a little less yucky, a ring of 50ft tall inflatable cats around the entire facility, at 50ft they should scare off the birds at a much greater distance allowing them ample time to bank and choose a new course ;0)

  42. This must be the new method for capital punishment.
    Just consider, all those birds take away the stigma of being unusual.

  43. @ Dudley Horscroft

    kentucky fried anything is fine by me, I’m just a little concerned that dipping feral cats in the kernels secret batter mix before launch may prove to be a little more than any of us bargained for ;0)

  44. CharlesNGlendale
    Anthony, you wrote
    ———————————————————————————————————————
    “I drove to the Heartland ICCC9 conference in Las Vegas, NV, (my “Big Oil” charter jet never showed up) taking the US395 route through Nevada on the way to the conference, but on the return trip, I took the Interstate 10 to SR58 route to Bakersfield, and that had me drive by the Ivanpah Solar Power plant. I had never seen the desert air glow before in broad daylight, so I stopped to take some photos.
    Here is the view from Interstate-10 looking west at the southernmost tower”
    ————————————————————————————————————————

    I think you mean Interstate-15.

    I drive from the LA area to Las Vegas four or five times a year. I drive on Interstate 15 and I think you also drove on Interstate 15 and not Interstate 10. The way to remember is even number Interstate highway run east-west, and odd numbered one run north-south.

    Driving on Interstate 15 I have seen the Ivanpah Solar Power plant as it was being constructed and in operation.

  45. “you probably can generate more energy in that space, by having minimum wage laborers riding stationary bikes driving alternators; maybe two feet apart, side to side, and five feet front to back.”

    Maximum direct solar insolation is about 1,000 watts per sq. m. You can fit two bicycles in one sq. m. area. Running at 40 mph, a cyclist generates around 750 watts. Two cyclists = 1,500 watts. Yes they can generate more power per sq. m. But I doubt they can maintain 40 mph for 6 hours. Unless it’s Lance Armstrong on steroids.

  46. What a waste… A $2.2 BILLION bird fryer for just “390WW” of energy (probably actually 50% of its rated capacity)…

    A 650MW gas turbine power plant can be built for around $630 million and run 24/7/365 without frying 30,000 birds/yr and no back-up system is required.

    Hmmmm… $5.64 million/MW vs $970,000/MW… Which is mo’ bedda and mo’ cheappa?

    Once the 100% back-up power costs, actual rated capacity, downtime, maintenance, resistive transmission loss, weather loss, etc. are factored in, the true costs/MW for the bird fryer is closer to 10 TIMES the cost/MW of a gas turbine plant…

    Gimme somma dat…

    Leftists truly are clueless lot and very poor at simple math…

  47. This could be an interesting technology option for reducing the crows or locusts in your crops. Anything more than 6 feet up gets zorched. You might also produce some great popcorn balls right in the field. For such a modest price, too.

  48. Samurai, its 6.6 billion not 2.2 billion. You can only generate when the sun shines. The gas plant runs 24/7

    you forgot the cost of money in your calculation plus the cost of the plants needed for when the sun dont shine.

    Those green customers that contract for supply from this plant, fine, should have their supply cut off by smart meter, when the sun goes down.

  49. I wonder what the atmosphere thermal plume is above that plant. I’ll bet that the thermal heat island is 15-20 times greater than that of buildings, roads, etc..

    I wonder what that does to local air movement and local climate effects of drought and loss of moisture in the air? this is one area it would be interesting to map the heat island and its affect.

  50. Grey Lensman says:
    August 18, 2014 at 10:50 pm
    Samurai, its 6.6 billion not 2.2 billion. You can only generate when the sun shines. The gas plant runs 24/7
    ===========================

    Oh my… You’ve got to be kidding me…. It’s $2.2 billion PER array x 3 arrays… Got it. Jeez…

    “It’s worse than we thought” (TM)…

    Why doesn’t the government just fly B-52s over Ivanpah and dump $100 bills out their bomb bay doors to be incinerated and use the heat from the burning money to generate power… It would probably be cheaper…

  51. ***windows kill “somewhere between 100 million and 1 billion birds each year in North America” – how accurate is that?

    18 Aug: San Francisco Chronicle: John Cote: City wants to know if birds are smashing into your windows
    Despite the consternation about birds being killed by wind turbines, many more die from flying into windows or glass buildings than from wind turbines, cell towers and the like, according to the American Bird Conservancy.
    ***Window crashes kill somewhere between 100 million and 1 billion birds each year in North America…
    No one knows how many of those deaths are happening at houses and apartment buildings in San Francisco, but your friendly neighborhood Planning Department wants to find out.
    The department is rolling out a program this week, on the cusp of the fall migration season, asking residents to check around their home at least once a week for dead or injured birds…
    Volunteers will get a decal certifying them as a “Bird-friendly resident,” can be entered in a raffle (no details yet on prizes), and can get city advice and subsidies on window treatments to help reduce bird collisions…
    San Francisco has strong bird-friendly building requirements for tall commercial buildings downtown, but that’s not the case when it comes to residential homes.
    “So far, there hasn’t been enough scientific data gathered on bird-window collisions in urban residential settings,” said Cindy Margulis, executive director of Golden Gate Audubon Society…

    http://blog.sfgate.com/cityinsider/2014/08/18/city-wants-to-know-if-birds-are-smashing-into-your-windows/

  52. ossqss:

    At August 18, 2014 at 8:07 pm you say and ask

    So why the reflection to begin with?

    That is a bunch of energy escaping that could be redirected.

    Just sayin, that energy could certainly generate localized heat. Isn’t that what the whole thing is supposed to do efficiently?

    Nothing is perfect so the idea of complete capture of the solar energy is overly ambitious.

    The “reflection” is because the air is not perfectly transparent so it scatters ‘light’. This is simply understood for dust particles in the air, and the bird ‘streamers’ are merely large particles.

    In his above report of his observation of the solar plant our host writes

    I have to say it was an eerie sight seeing the air glow that electric blue color like you see on carbon-arc searchlights at night, but instead being visible during the day. The amount of power being concentrated in the air is quite impressive.

    The air glows blue for the same reason that the sky is blue.

    You say of the scattering that it “is a bunch of energy escaping that could be redirected”. Perhaps, but it is not clear how the scattered energy “could be redirected”. It would not be scattered if the solar plant were enclosed in a vacuum (e.g. if the plant were on the Moon).

    Richard

  53. much more at the link:

    17 Aug: Las Vegas Review-Journal: Henry Brean: Bat deaths prompt change at wind farm
    In June, the wind farm’s 66 turbines — each standing up to 425 feet tall — were adjusted on nights with high bat activity so they would only start turning when sustained winds reach about 11 mph instead of the usual “cut-in” speed of about 7 mph.
    The move was designed to reduce the number bats killed in collisions with the spinning blades because “when it gets too windy, the bats aren’t flying as much,” said Paul Podborny, a field manager with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s office in Ely.
    Podborny is scheduled to meet next week with Spring Valley Wind representatives to review whether the new operating protocols are working. If bats continue to die in unacceptably high numbers, additional measures might include increasing the number of nights the higher cut-in speeds are used, increasing the cut-in speed even more or shutting down the turbines altogether on nights when a lot of bats are active, he said…
    In an email, Pattern’s director of environmental compliance, Rene Braud, said the vast majority of the bats were Mexican free-tail bats, “a very common and abundant species” that migrates by the millions through the Spring Valley each year and is not protected under federal law.
    “The project has had no impact at all on any threatened or endangered bat species,” Braud said…
    Rob Mrowka, senior scientist for the Center for Biological Diversity in Nevada, put it this way: “The Spring Valley Wind project is an important component of a renewable energy portfolio placed in absolutely the wrong location.”…
    Research suggests bats easily can navigate around stationary wind turbines, but not even echo-location will save some of them when the blades are turning…

    http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/water-environment/bat-deaths-prompt-change-wind-farm

  54. No one has yet researched the potential impact on the climate of this concentration of heat. Is a permanent “heat low” and resultant circulation, updrafts and possible thunderstorm clusters a possible result?

  55. Some mentioned that birds could be or are attracted to the “wave like glare’ from the mirrors. Farmers have used reflecting tape (silver) to deflect birds for years successfully. I doubt the Raptors would be attracted, I think that they more than likely used to living there for centuries and the 3 year old solar array is the not so “natural, green” thing they are used to.

  56. It is not so negative, plotting the number of birds(death) each year their numbers will drop to zero after 20/30 years and then it’s a nice green technology., ha,ha,ha,!!

  57. RE: IvanPah

    “Those who the Gods would destroy, First make MAD”. True 3000 years ago, and the Eco-Loon Lefties prove it true today.

  58. pat says:
    August 18, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    ***windows kill “somewhere between 100 million and 1 billion birds each year in North America” – how accurate is that?

    Now there’s a topic for a green (grad student) researcher to dig into. Maybe the NSF would fund him/her. I suspect the 100 million figure was a speculative extrapolation from an unrepresentative sample.

    It shouldn’t be too expensive to do a little exploratory polling. If there are 100 million residences in the US, then each should account for one bird per year. I’ve only found one dead bird near my house in 40 years (and not near a window). A survey of homeowners and/or building superintendents might turn up similar estimates.

    (Similarly, I’m suspicious of the large number of bird kills attributed to cats.)

  59. PS: To keep the cost down, the survey could be limited to a local area. Heck, this could be a high school science-fair project if the area was small enough.

    To increase response rates, non-responders could be contacted personally. Or maybe all pollees could be asked follow-up questions. All the kids in a science class could be assigned one square block to do the follow-up phoning. In that case, they’d all get credit for the project.

  60. Tonyb, that Themis link was very interesting USD 60 Million for 2MW output. Abandoned. Says it all

  61. rogerknights says: August 18, 2014 at 8:45 pm “I wonder if the birds are attracted by the glare. If so, that would explain why the high kill rate wasn’t foreseen.”

    Cynical Scientst says: August 18, 2014 at 8:48 pm “The play of light on the mirrors may look like sunlight on water to the birds, attracting them to their doom from a considerable distance.”

    You two are on to it and I think it is more than the reflection of sunlight, looking at several of the photos, the birds are seeing a reflection of the sky in general. There is only one thing in nature that reflects the sky on such a large scale – water. To a thirsty and dusty birdie in the desert it has to be an enormous attraction. I wouldn’t be surprised that the sight attracts birds from over a radius of 50 miles away.

    Imagine the disappointment of the ones that fly such a long way and discover there is no water for them? If they were thirsty enough to set out flying a long way to investigate then they are going to be that much more thirsty when they get there. Perhaps many that arrive looking for what they thought was water are determined to figure out where the water is and orbit the installation a few times trying to figure out what went “wrong” – increasing their chances of meeting their doom.

    There are not that many birds in the desert to begin with and some of the more permanent species there are more specialized to survive there, (gee.. like polar bears are to survive in the arctic…)

    I can think of only two possible solutions, build a lake all the way around each farm at a huge expense and operating cost to actually give the birds the water they were attracted to, (basically altering the local desert environment in a big way with now even more animals attracted to the smell of the real water) – or – TEAR IT ALL DOWN!

    I wouldn’t be surprised that many of the birds are only partially scorched and therefore not killed by the hot beam of light at all but are instead having enough of their flight feathers singed off enough that they can no longer fly. Many probably hit the ground alive and the ones not lucky enough to break their necks on impact die a slow death in the sand. If I’m right someone should be able to get video of these suffering animals. WHERE IS THE ASPCA???

  62. ossqss:

    If you have been following this thread then you have probably missed my reply to your post because it was in moderation for so long that the thread has ‘moved on’.

    My reply to your post is at August 18, 2014 at 11:38 pm and this link jumps to it.

    I hope this is helpful.

    Richard

  63. ” ..having enough of their flight feathers singed off that they can no longer fly.”

    I meant to write that they can no longer fly at all – or – fly very far before becoming exhausted.

    Thinking a little more makes me suspect there could many many more birds miles away that became too exhausted to fly any further with partially singed wings. If so are they being included in the death count? .. I would doubt it.

    Also, if the glare of the collector can hurt the eyes of a pilot a few miles away, imagine what it does to the eyes of a bird that is near by?

  64. One “streamer” every 2 minutes. Let’s say the thing operates 8 hours = 480 minutes per day. That’s 420 birds, roughly, per day. Times 30 years = 4.6 million birds. Given that it would take, say, at least 10,000 of these installations to make any significant reduction in thermoboogies (at 13.5 million tons of CO2 “averted” over 30 years, compared to the 35.5 billion tons of annual CO2 “emissions”), that’s 46 billion birds roasted in 30 years. Of course it wouldn’t be that many due to the extinction that such wholesale slaughter would induce.

    In 1970, 2 decades of DDT use had prevented 500 million human deaths, and untold misery, from malaria, but, based on flimsy evidence of egg-shell thinning in some birds (presumably less than 46 billion in number), further hundreds of millions of people were condemned to death. (http://junkscience.com/1999/07/26/100-things-you-should-know-about-ddt/).

    A billion souls lost because DDT could possibly be tenuously linked to thinning in the egg shells of relatively few birds (many of which were becoming extinct due to other factors anyway), yet nary a wimper from Brownpiece and the other enviro-watermelons about the avian destructiveness of solar energy.

    I guess you have to be a “progressive” to be OK with that.

  65. Oops, too little coffee. I meant to type 240 birds per day, but carried my typo through the arithmetic. So it’s not 46 billion birds, its 24 billion. Sorry.

  66. The “Law of Unintended Consequences” strikes again, or does it?

    Quite apart from the scandalous loss of bird life, it beggars belief that (apparently) nobody foresaw the risk to aviation from reflections. Or maybe they did, and couldn’t care less, since aeroplanes are powered by “Evil Oil”. and should all be grounded anyway.

    Is it going to take an actual mid air collision to force the closure of plants like this? Or will the powers that be do a cost/benefit analysis, and determine that a few lives lost are worth it for the overall environmental good?

    One thing is certain – if this lunacy continues, in the brave new “sustainable” future, our children “Won’t know what a bird looks like”.

  67. A good place for a KFC restaurant to toast chicken for free, shooting them through the rays near the collector by the help of air guns. :-)

  68. Killing the birds is a shame and probably enough to raise serious questions about the continued existence of the site but to be honest if this is built with entirely private funds I don’t give a damn how much it costs or the efficiency. The real outrage should be about how much government* money or subsidies helped pay for this one way or another?. It’s pretty clear that on a commercial basis the ROI just isn’t there and any business with a duty to its shareholders probably wouldn’t go anywhere near it.

    If private investors want to chuck their cash into a green money-pit, good luck to them.

    *Note: the government doesn’t have any money. It’s actually yours.

  69. No, really? Reflecting sunlight with a mirror would cause glare? Who on Earth could have predicted that before building the thing I ask????????????????????????????????????

  70. This could be California’s answer to the Burning Man Festival.

    They could make their Burning Bird Festival a celebration of solar powered everything, including solar fried chicken.

  71. Considering how the authorities go ballistic when they even think someone
    might be considering pointing a laser pointer (low milliwatts?) at an aircraft, I would think that there would be at least life in prison for using a garage door sized mirror to point a sunbeam (maybe 4 kilowatts on a bright day) at a commercial airliner. Consider how effective “Gee, officer, I didn’t know that (insert one: commercial airliner, aircraft, or police helicopter) was there.” would be if your laser pointer was mounted on a mechanism to randomly point it around the sky.

  72. The knock that I’ve always heard about therml solar is that its not cost competitive with even photovoltaic solar, which means that only it exists because of massive govt subsides, which pretty much describes Californa’s energy programs. We ALL KNOW what would be happeneing if this were a fossil fuel mining operation doing this damage – wall-to-wall, incinerated bird kills videoed from dawn till dus. Now , exactly why is the Audubon Society being mum about both these bird kils and wind turbine kils, which have been doocumented to kill not only raptors, but very large numbers of bats, and have been suspected as driving our surviving Whooping Cranes towards extinction.

  73. ..SOLAR POWERPLANT GLARE MAY BE INJURIOUS TO PILOTS’/PASSENGERS’
    ,,,
    EYES FROM SURFACE TO UNLIMITED ALITITUDE FROM GLARE SOURCE. FLASH
    BLINDNESS OR COCKPIT ILLUMINATION MAY
    OCCUR.

    “injurious to pilots/passengers’ eyes”

    Hmm. do I, um, see a lawsuit in the making?

    Maybe 3:

    airline, FAA, and the Ivanpah Solar Electric folks.

  74. Mods:

    Just curious, why was my previous post automatically placed in “moderation”?

    Is there some word I should refrain from using?

    [Reply: Only WordPress knows. And they’re not telling… ~mod]

  75. All the above is applies only to non US electrical production. The US solar market will hit the wall in 2016 when the 30% tax credit expires. No way solar can compete without those tax credits.

    This is very unlikely to be true. That’s like saying “no way somebody is going to build a personal computer that holds more than a megabyte of RAM”, or “no way somebody will reduce the cost of a personal computer from $5000 to $500″. All the removal of the subsidy will do is force the solar market to be flat with the various alternative energy sources already out there. This, in turn, will probably make solar a marginal loser in some places it is a marginal winner, but there are places where the winning margin is already large enough to survive the subsidy loss, and solar cells have been experiencing a Moore’s Law-like end-user price curve, halving their price per watt roughly every seven to ten years.

    Without wanting to go once again through the entire panoply of costs and benefits of PV solar, some points worth making are:

    * Don’t underestimate the semi-free market. There is no fundamental reason solar cannot be cost competitive with fuel-based energy over a reasonable amortization frame, especially in parts of the country or world where fuel-based energy costs are high and annual insolation is large. There are already parts of the US where these conditions hold, and the cost-recovery time for consumer-installed solar with or without the subsidy is between 10 and 15 years out of a nominal 20 to 25 year lifetime. Corporate power installations are already clearly profitable — they can obtain cells, electronics and so on in bulk and have cost-efficiencies in installation that exceed those of private citizens and can amortize costs much faster, over time frames that are very competitive with new construction fuel-based power plants. The reason subsidies will disappear isn’t because solar is good or bad, it is because in some sense the subsidies have done their job, which is to develop a new industry that makes a valuable product to where that product is competitive and the industry can stand alone, or not.

    * Don’t underestimate the march of technology, engineering, and physics. The one thing holding PV solar back more than anything else is the cost of storage. Substantial private and government subsidized R&D money is going into battery technology, not only to support the solar energy generation process but to support/improve things like hybrid car or electric car design and engineering.

    I own both a Toyota Prius and a Ford Excursion — one that averages just under 50 mpg, the other that averages around 14 mpg (8 cylinder, my previous 10 cylinder Excursion only got 11.5 mpg). It would be child’s play to add Prius-like features to the Excursion — in particular, the shutting off of the engine at a stop light so that the car’s startup from rest and restarting of the gas engine is accomplished using (mostly) reclaimed kinetic energy from magnetic-assisted braking. I have >>watched<< the Excursion's internal fuel efficiency counter plummet at every stop sign in town after a reset — if this feature alone were added, the fuel efficiency of my Excursion would go up to around 20 mpg, perhaps 18 mpg for a 10 cylinder version. Those 10 cylinders really suck down fuel idling. Batteries and still-patented technologies that can solve this and many other related problems could take my Excursion from having a highway no-tow range of around 700 miles to over 1000 miles, and drop its substantial cost of operation by 1/3 and STILL let me tow my boat. It isn't just about global warming, in other words…

    Other places where technology is bound to both improve and come down in cost include the inverters needed to hook solar houses up to the grid, power transmission technologies, solar cell efficiencies (at constant cost). But storage is the big one, and there are projects investigating a variety of ways of storing large scale daytime energy production for release at night and for transporting energy over sufficiently long distances to smooth out weather-based variability of commercial generation. But even without these technologies, solar is still a conditional win in many southern US locations, including in NC where I live and much of the southwest.

    * There is little reason to get religious about electricity generation either way. Coal is not “desirable” as an energy source. It never was. Quite aside from CO_2, it is expensive and dangerous to mine, “dirty” in many ways when burned (although sure, one can clean it up at substantial, hence profit-disincentivized, cost), and one day our descendants might well curse us for using up so much of the readily available coal when it, like all fossil “fuels”, are stores of raw materials for all kinds of manufacture, of everything from steel to concrete to plastics to drugs. We have used coal (among other things) to bootstrap a wonderful energy-rich civilization, and have dealt with whole generations of ecological/environmental problems associated with the use of coal as an energy source from the soot produced by household-level coal-burning furnaces of a century or more ago to acid rain produced by high-sulfur coal today. We have dealt with the health issues and substantial risks associated with mining coal in vast quantities. We have dealt with the political and economic problems associated with a key commodity being produced by a small, powerful, collective of companies (and humans) to their enormous enrichment from a resource that arguably should be part of the commons.

    Solar is not “desirable” as an energy resource. Solar cells (like all solid state electronics) are doped with toxic elements, they are comparatively expensive to mass-produce with enough efficiency and quality control to be a reliable investment, they don’t work when the sun doesn’t shine (enough), and we lack mature and cost-effective storage technology.

    Uranium fission-based nuclear is again dangerous to mine, dirty (in an entirely different way) to “burn”, and carries various nonlinear risks in its current pressurized-water implementation of both meltdown and nuclear proliferation.

    Hydroelectric requires enormous capital investment, covers lots of otherwise fruitful land with water (which may or may not be desirable), and comes with a risk price tag of substantial vulnerability to sufficiently violent earthquakes, which are rare but which can easily happen on a century plus timescale.

    Fusion might be ideal — oh, wait, no it’s not because it does not work.

    Natural gas is peachy except that it is a finite supply, “fracking” to liberate a supply sufficient to run the power grid produces a variety of problems that you can pretend are not there if you like, but it won’t stop them from being there, and personally, as a cook I’d much rather we save it to run gas stoves because cooking on electric sucks.

    We live in a society whose wealth is defined almost precisely by its per-capita energy cost and consumption. The world’s poverty is equally precisely defined by the lack of access to cheap, plentiful energy. The world’s energy supply itself is a collection of finite resources, each with costs, risks, and benefits associated with their “mining”, transportation, conversion, and utilization. Optimizing this and shepherding the entire world down a path to a stable, energy rich world civilization is not a trivial task, and the process is not aided by sound-bite reasoning, knee-jerk reaction, anger, or the deliberate amplification and distortion of perceived risk or future cost (which is widespread on both sides of e.g. the global warming issue, exaggeration of risk of global warming on the one hand, minimization of the risk associated with increased CO_2 and continued large scale mass consumption of coal reserves on the other).

    In the meantime, pilot projects such as the one that is the subject of the top article are very valuable, easily worth even the substantial investment of building them. How else will we learn what the not-so-visible costs are of implementing designs like this? To the nominal cash price tag, we can now add the estimated net present value of at least 10′s of thousands of toasted birds (and orders of magnitude more insects, and possibly other ecological sequellae) per year. Or, in the case of wind energy, the cost of shredded birds, butterflies, whatever. Perhaps this will cause us to adopt some other design for heat-based solar generation — there are other designs out there, after all — that are less risky to birds although perhaps less efficient as well. Europe is learning the hard way that massive wind may not be the best possible way to power up their electrical grid, and may not even be a great way to supplement it and eke out fuel based electricity if it comes at the expense of removing fuel based resources altogether and ratcheting up prices instead of ratcheting them down. Pilot projects and sober economic analysis is the only way to make real progress with measurements of costs and benefits and unexpected economies of scale and their opposite — diseconomies of scale such as massive numbers of dead birds that scale up with the resource and could easily threaten endangered regional species.

    rgb

  76. A commenter over a Spencers’s site points out that this solar plant is also a large user of natural gas It seems that they use natural gas to “pre-heat” the boiler at dawn so they can start generating steam as soon as possible from the sun. The plant operators’ initial predictions that they would use natural gas about 1 hr per day. Their actual use has grown to 5 hrs per day.

    Is this shades of the Spanish operators practice of running diesel electric generators to shine lights on solar cells?

    An accounting of the natural gas use by these plants is in order. First, assume all the natural gas used at the solar plant was used instead in a combined cycle gas turbine (efficiency 60%) to generate electricity. Then subtract that electricity from the total generated by the solar plants in question. Take that difference and divide by the cost of the plant and put the ocst per MWhr in the glare of public view.

  77. Somebody needs to create a video of birds being roasted by this monstrosity and post it to all the online video services. Just like environmental activists record abuse at turkey and pig farms. This needs to be made common knowledge.

  78. http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/solar/concentrating-solar/ivanpah-solar-plant-owners-want-to-burn-a-lot-more-natural-gas.html

    Ivanpah Solar Plant Owners Want To Burn a Lot More Natural Gas
    The project’s managers, BrightSource Energy and NRG Energy, originally estimated that the plant’s main auxiliary boilers would need to run for an hour a day, on average, to allow the plant to capture solar energy efficiently. But after a few months of operation, they’re now saying they need to burn more gas, with the boilers running an average of five hours a day.
    If the petition is approved, ISEGS would be allowed to use a quantity of natural gas that would have been enough to supply about 35,000 typical California households.

  79. The imagination goes wild. This technology obviously has a future in constructing open-air greenhouses and Florida citrus frost preventers, all at the modest cost of needing 10X as much land to concentrate the sunlight from. And so peculiarly effective at night, too.

  80. I see from the FAA NOTAM that this thing covers 3500 acres. How many diesel (or coal, or nuclear) plants could you fit into that space? And how many households would be supplied with power – 24 hours a day?

  81. Maybe if these mirrors were killing fish they would face more environmental opposition?
    Birds fly. They have options?

  82. Mike McMillan says:

    I’ve been through the glare field of a smaller prototype of those things back in the 90’s, and they really are a hazard to flight. They light up the cockpit like an arc light, and you can’t look in that direction until you get past the mirrors.

    Sounds rather more dangerous than handheld laser pointers. Which are hadly capable to dazzling BOTH pilots at once.

  83. I have spent a lot of time hiking through the desert. I might see a couple birds in an entire day. It’s astonishing that this thing could fry this many birds, especially considering the location, which is quite barren, even for a desert. If I walked across similar terrain, I’d expect to see zero birds. It has be attracting them, and in large numbers. My suspicion is that from a distance it looks like a lake, and birds come looking for a drink of water and a meal.

    I have to wonder about critters that are attracted to the site expecting water, but don’t get fried. Life in the desert is tenuous, and unnecessary expenditure of energy can easily result in death. How many birds, coyotes, rodents, etc, make the journey to this site expecting it to be a lake, and then wander off and [die] as a result of their fruitless trek?

    In the end, the critters will survive. Even at 30 birds an hour, it is a tiny fraction of the overall death toll. What kills me is the blatant hypocrisy and the horrific waste of money. 2 billion dollars to provide power to 140,000 homes? In what universe does that make any sense at all?

  84. “Ric Werme says:
    August 19, 2014 at 6:22 am
    This could be California’s answer to the Burning Man Festival.

    They could make their Burning Bird Festival a celebration of solar powered everything, including solar fried chicken.”

    Actually what they should do, if possible, is aim the output of the collectors at the nearest windfarms. Then they could have the “Burning Fan” festival……(sorry)….

  85. “pat says:
    August 18, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    ***windows kill “somewhere between 100 million and 1 billion birds each year in North America” – how accurate is that? ”

    Gosh, I knew Vista and Win8 were bad, but not THAT bad….

    Seriously, though, I wonder where these watermelons get their data. They’ve made exaggeration of extrapolations into an art form…. (trying vainly to suppress thoughts of liberal arts majors [emphasis on liberal] flunking math)….

    I agree that bird kills by these and the bird-choppers are bad, but what REALLY scares me is the potential for pilots and/or passengers to be blinded by these arrays….then some beaurocrat(s) somewhere will be taksed with balancing “energy production” with death counts…then again, the melons don’t care about humans anyway….sigh…

  86. ********* Typical NOTAM issued for the area ******

    Data Current as of: Tue, 19 Aug 2014 14:43:00 UTC
    KZLA LOS ANGELES (ARTCC)PALMDALE, CA.

    FDC 4/1273 – CA..AIRSPACE IVANPAH DRY LAKE, CA. SOLAR POWERPLANT
    GLARE THE LAS VEGAS / LAS / VORTAC 193 RADIAL RADIAL 36 NAUTICAL
    MILES TO THE LAS VEGAS / LAS / VORTAC 189 RADIAL RADIAL 34 NAUTICAL
    MILES. THIS PLANT COVERS APPROXIMATELY 3,500 ACRES WEST OF INTERSTATE
    HIGHWAY 15 NEAR THE CALIFORNIA-NEVADA STATE LINE WITH ROUGHLY
    175,000 MIRRORS SURROUNDING EACH OF THREE COLLECTION TOWERS. THESE
    TOWERS EMPLOYE A NEW TECHNOLOGY THAT HAS NOT BEEN UTILIZED AT THIS
    LEVEL BEFORE, CREATING A SOLAR GLARE EFFECT IN THE AIRCRAFT.
    LOS ANGELES AIR ROUTE TRAFFIC CONTROL CENTER (ARTCC) AND LAS VEGAS
    TERMINAL RADAR APPROACH CONTROL (TRACON) BEGAN RECEIVING NUMEROUS
    PILOT REPORTS OF GLARE ASSOCIATED WITH THE POWERPLANT SINCE THE
    FACILITY BEGAN PRODUCTION.
    TO APPROPRIATELY DOCUMENT THESE CONDITIONS, PILOTS AND OTHER AIR CREW
    MEMBERS ARE URGED TO UTILIZE NASA’S AVIATION SAFETY REPORTING SYSTEM
    (ASRS) AND PROVIDE AN ELECTRONIC REPORT SUBMISSION (ERS) VIA THE WEB
    AT http://ASRS.ARC.NASA.GOV/REPORT/ELECTRONIC/HTML
    SOLAR POWERPLANT GLARE MAY BE INJURIOUS TO PILOTS’/PASSENGERS’
    END PART 1 OF 2. 20 JUN 19:45 2014 UNTIL 31 DEC 06:00 2014 ESTIMATED. CREATED:
    20 JUN 19:43 2014

    https://pilotweb.nas.faa.gov/PilotWeb/radiusSearchAction.do?formatType=ICAO&geoIcaoLocId=MMTJ&geoIcaoRadius=5&openItems=&actionType=radiusSearch

  87. If the sunlight can not be better focused on the heat elements it would seem a great deal of energy is being wasted. Ideally couldn’t each mirror be “fitted” to shine exclusively at the intended object?

  88. @Tom J says:
    August 18, 2014 at 9:05 pm
    You raise a great question: How much waste heat is pumped into the atmosphere per kilowatt produced vs. a nuke plant, or a gas fired or coal fired plant?
    What is the carbon footprint of the mirror system, with its glass (high energy cost) motors, wiring, control devices, etc.)? Since the system is obviously offline or severely impaired at night, cloudy days and dusty/misty etc. days, what is actual power output vs. the rated capacity? Is it like wind, in <20% range? And what is the land footprint of this per kilowatt produced?

  89. I wonder if you could sue for retinal damage if you happened to be looking out the window when the glare struck.

    Hey! GlareNado?

  90. I drove by the Ivanpah site this weekend. It can be blinding to drivers, too.

    This site represents your tax dollars at work. But wait, Google pays for it, right? Wrong! Google gets tax write-offs for this, regardless of it’s actual utility. Why is Google, an internet company, dabbling in alternate energy projects? Because we have Byzantine tax laws that give incentives for the “correct” behavior. Tax credits means Google gets to write off an equivalent amount of income as if it never happened.

  91. @Mike McMillan – I’ll take my Condor extra crispy, and from the wind farm down the road, I’ll pick up a couple helpings of birdslaw to go with it!

  92. “The plant operators’ initial predictions that they would use natural gas about 1 hr per day. Their actual use has grown to 5 hrs per day.”

    They should go to 20 hours per day. Then they’d have a gas-fired boiler plant disguised as a solar plant. That would fix the problem with idle assets, and solar being intermittent.

  93. When Ivanpah was proposed, BrightSource claimed the plant’s natural gas-powered auxiliary boilers would only need to run an average of an hour per day. Now they’re saying they made a slight miscalculation. They really need to run on gas an average of five hours a day (burning enough gas to supply about 35,000 typical California households).

    Even with $1.6 billion in federal loan guarantees, Ivanpah would not have been financially feasible if purchase of its ‘renewable’ power output wasn’t mandated by the State of California. Now it turns out the “world’s most efficient solar plant” is actually a gas/solar plant, selling power from natural gas at the same inflated price as from solar energy.

    Jerry Brown, duly elected Governor of California by faux-greenie ignoramuses who believe “climate change” is a bigger threat to birds than 1000° F boiler towers, is now at odds with environmental groups who are fighting the construction of an even larger BrightSource concentrating solar plant in the middle of a bird migration route.

    I believe that, somehow, some of those subsidized profits are benefiting Jerry Brown’s political machine.

  94. Further evidence of BrightSource’s disingenuousness is their offer to pay $1.8 million in compensation for the anticipated bird deaths at their proposed Palen plant, money to be used to spay and neuter cats.

    The reasoning behind cat population reduction is the claim that cats kill billions of birds per year. But there are two problems with that claim.

    The Smithsonian study cited for that claim was done by green-energy-supporting bird conservationists. Their inflated numbers –which are used to excuse raptor kills by wind turbines, conveniently ignoring the fact that raptors kill both cats and other birds–come from a computer model that extrapolates numbers reported in other studies . The study–blabbed to the world by an unquestioning media–has been roundly criticized by other scientists as being sheer fabrication.

    In any case, the bird species commonly killed by cats are by no means endangered (quite the opposite, in fact). There is no relationship between cat predation and the chopping and broiling done in the name of enriching crony corporations.

  95. Eustace Cranch says:
    August 19, 2014 at 7:01 am
    “At least the bats are safe from this, for obvious reasons.”

    Nope. The full report that started all the recent newspaper articles (link below) documents “significant bat and insect mortality”, however the cause of the bat mortality is not clear.

    http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/Avian-mortality%20Report%20FINALclean.pdf

    The report notes that the bright light attracts insects and these insects attract birds and bats. The “streamers” are not all birds being ignited, but also include the combustion of swarms of insects and debris.

  96. I just watched the Ivanpah construction video and they are using flat distorted mirrors, which I have to believe is diffusing a lot of the incoming sunlight and causing the glare

    Maybe if they used high quality circular parabolic mirrors they could tighten up the focus and reduce the glare, of course that would likely add a billion to the cost.

  97. My plant had to do an autosopy on a pigeon that ran into our unit (the poor thing had broken his neck). How are these people operating with hundreds of bird kills a day? That sort of take level would get a refinery shut down in hours.

  98. Post today based on several helpful comments and links above:

    World’s largest solar energy plant wants to increase its greenhouse gas emissions to 94,749 tons per year

    http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2014/08/worlds-largest-solar-energy-plant-wants.html

    Plant wants to increase its natural gas use to 525 MMSCF per “power block” X 3 units = 1575 MMSCF natural gas per year.

    http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/TN201928_20140326T164429_Ivanpah_Petition_to_Amend_No_4.pdf

    Enough to supply 35K households of the 100K total the plant is said by some to supply

    But – firing boilers with natural gas as they do at Ivanpah is known to produce much more particulate and greenhouse emissions than a much more efficient and cleaner-burning modern gas turbine generator.

    Any engineers here who are able to estimate the pollution and GHG footprint of Ivanpah vs. a modern gas turbine plant?

    It would be the ultimate of ironies if this “solar” plant ends up being similar or more polluting than a conventional gas turbine plant.

  99. I have a design for a device which intakes plant materials, including unsalable apples and potatoes, as well as the byproducts of other crops, and turns them into superior proteins, iodine, and zinc. This device also converts sunshine from photosynthesis into other products used in transportation, medicine, fashion, art, agricultural soil enrichment products, and music. This device has no glare and is a benefit to bees and grasslands as it reduces fire hazard in dry seasons.

  100. One bird found dead in a mud pit at a North Dakota oil drilling site is equal to a few thousand dollars in fines, especially for those that are critics or non-donors of the WH. If this same fine per bird was applied to Ivanpah, it would bankrupt the operation.

  101. I was pretty disturbed about the bird deaths. I’m not convinced that insect deaths are just fine either when in large quantity. But the moment BrightSource are responsible for an airplane crash, it’s a whole new situation. Who thought it was ok to put aviation in danger from something like this?

    Funny how the environmentalists say it is 28 000 birds a year and BrightSource says it is 1000. If you have a nickname for the event, it must happen more than that. I actually think the number might be higher, especially if the birds don’t die right away. Yick.

    I’m also sure the actual numbers for energy produced versus cost are fudged.

  102. I had a pet desert tortoise for a while. Well, I am not a zoologist so, that is just a WAG.

    Well I found it walking along a busy street, in Si Valley, so I rescued it from being squished by trucks, or blown away, by the hordes of dust blowers, in Si valley.

  103. “””””…..John ;0) says:

    August 19, 2014 at 10:01 am

    I just watched the Ivanpah construction video and they are using flat distorted mirrors, which I have to believe is diffusing a lot of the incoming sunlight and causing the glare

    Maybe if they used high quality circular parabolic mirrors they could tighten up the focus and reduce the glare, of course that would likely add a billion to the cost…….”””””

    Well not so fast. Just how big are those mirrors ? And how faraway, from the “focal point” are they.

    Well my guess, is the F/# is so huge, that each of those flat mirrors, is essentially diffraction limited.

    So nothing much would be gained, by curving them. Remember, the focallength of a spherical mirro, is half the radius. So how are you going to put a radius equalt to twice the distance from the collector, on each mirror. And each one is different.

    Good luck on that boondoggle. Replace them with pedal alternators.

  104. “””””…..Without wanting to go once again through the entire panoply of costs and benefits of PV solar, some points worth making are:

    * Don’t underestimate the semi-free market. There is no fundamental reason solar cannot be cost competitive with fuel-based energy over a reasonable amortization frame, especially in parts of the country or world where fuel-based energy costs are high and annual insolation is large. …..”””””

    Does that include the property taxes on all that real estate; for the property “improvements”, that is ?? If the solar panels get down to free, the real estate improvement taxes, will still kill you.

    Oh, I forgot, these corporate welfare parasites, probably will get forgiven, their property taxes.

    They could charge the Solar panels to their EBT cards. (Everybody But Taxpayers) AKA “food stamps”.

  105. I would like to offer a correction on the OP and (perhaps) a partial answer to a question raised by a couple of people above regarding the math to arrive at the number of birds impacted.

    The AP news story states that “streamers” are the “smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair.” It then goes on to say that streamers were noted approximately every 2 minutes. This is misleading.

    The relevant report says:

    “Ivanpah employees and OLE staff noticed that close to the periphery of the tower and within the reflected solar field area, streams of smoke rise when an object crosses the solar flux fields aimed at the tower. Ivanpah employees used the term “streamers” to characterize this occurrence.

    When OLE staff visited the Ivanpah Solar plant, we observed many streamer events. It is claimed that these events represent the combustion of loose debris, or insects. Although some of the events are likely that, there were instances in which the amount of smoke produced by the ignition could only be explained by a larger flammable biomass such as a bird. Indeed OLE staff observed birds entering the solar flux and igniting, consequently becoming a streamer.

    OLE staff observed an average of one streamer event every two minutes.”

    http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/Avian-mortality%20Report%20FINALclean.pdf

    —–

    Note the key difference: The report refers to a much broader category of events as “streamers,” only some of which could be attributed to birds. So the AP news story is apparently incorrect and, as a result, too startling in its conclusion.

    That said, the numbers still seem pretty high. It would be great to have a more detailed study done over at least a month or two to know how many birds are in fact getting killed and/or injured.

  106. You don’t need scattered light to get glared at by these Rube Goldberg assemblages.

    Let’s assume, that the entire target receiver, is coated with the best quality anti-reflection coatings.

    Well I put filters like that, on all my camera lenses.

    Yes the reflected image of the sun is still way too intense to look at. I compare good and bad ones, by reflecting the sun image on to a wall that is in the shadow.

    So you need visible wavelength stealth technology.

  107. george e. smith says:
    August 19, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Considering the size of the complex and the distance to the focal point with each set of mirrors around 60 sq ft, I would say the radius of the mirrors on the outer ring would be nearly imperceptible but if these parabolic mirrors were smoothed to a tolerance of lets say 0.010″ instead of 0.50″ for the flat ones there should be a difference in the diffusion of light, which could lead to higher efficiency

    Perhaps the loss of efficiency from using floppy mirrors is the reason they are needing to burn more natural gas

  108. I hope that someone goes out and films some birds being roasted and makes a documentary out of it. All the news agencies sent film crews out to Valdez to take pictures of those birds. Probably not much hope of any of them sending a crew to this location. At least, AP wrote an article.

  109. Back in the early 80′s I took a tour of Solar One the precursor to these kinds of power generation facilities. In the brief time I was their I saw two birds vaporized by flying into the concentrated beam of solar energy.

  110. Enough energy to cook birds in the air, and/or blind aircraft pilots — no wonder the things have such low efficiency.

  111. See a streamer…. like a meteor next to the tower….Sad…FF to 1:04….just a second…

  112. Geez in montreal a airport hotel had to sandblast its skylight to quit bugging the pilots and this is somehow ok?

  113. What’s all that green stuff on the ground? Desert, like hell it is. They call it desert to make it seem
    Like it’s relatively useless land. Mmm nevada blm rings a bell.

  114. george e. smith says: August 19, 2014 at 12:57 pm Maybe if they used high quality circular parabolic mirrors

    The sun is 93 million miles away so perfectly flat should be perfectly fine so long as the size of the mirror is less than the projected area of the illuminated surface being heated. I’d guess the flatness ain’t so perfect though and the imperfection causes the greatest problem from the mirrors that are the furthest away. Maybe some of the distortion is related to uneven heating of the structure supporting the mirror as it and the ground warms up / cools off each day? As you point out, it wouldn’t take much of an error for a miss.

  115. rogerknights 8/18 8:45 pm “I wonder if the birds are attracted by the glare. If so, that would explain why the high kill rate wasn’t foreseen.”
    Cynical Scientst 8/18 at 8:48 pm “The play of light on the mirrors may look like sunlight on water to the birds, attracting them to their doom from a considerable distance.”
    @mikeishere 8/19 3:19 am the birds are seeing a reflection of the sky in general. There is only one thing in nature that reflects the sky on such a large scale – water.

    Brilliant. Dazzling observations.
    Yes. The sea of mirrors is being mistaken for water by birds at great distance. It seems so obvious in hindsight.
    So these solar fields are not only economically loony, a danger to aircraft, certain death to birds that happen to fly near the boiler, they are an attractive nuisance to birds as well. Yet they are working as designed.
    Back to the drawing board.

  116. @upcountrywater says: 8/19,at 6:29 pm
    See a streamer…. like a meteor next to the tower….Sad…FF to 1:04….just a second…

    I saw something at 1:04, immediately after the words “San Francisco”
    A puff of white smoke that rises slightly.
    It’s position, relative to the boiler, is right a distance about 1.5 times the width of the boiler about 40% up the black body of the boiler.

  117. Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone
    I guess the boomers once again have a plan, and you are just going to have to pay got it. Let me plug in my oven but leave me the birds and the bees

    Please

  118. Report to P..E.T.A. They’ll try to shut down the solar plant, give them an distraction from our sheep.

  119. Even James Hansen criticised this solar plant , pointing out in “Chemistry World” (Royal society of Chemistry publication) that just one of the nuclear power plants to be built in China by Westinghouse produces as much power as 10 Ivanpah plants with a vastly lower land footprint , and no fried warblers.
    I would have thought that if birds are being are being killed in such numbers and so spectacularly then some enterprising person would be videoing this for Youtube , or to sell to a news station.
    Perhaps they have , but we are not seeing the result because they are effectively using blackmail to suppress the public release of the images in exchange for lots of money .
    So many ways of becoming rich from” renewables”, and all because the public is, thank goodness, a limitless source of money . O Brave New World and how lucky I am to have lived long enough to see it.

  120. I like how they say it is being built with private money. Backers are listed.

    Then it says there is a $1,680,000,000 loan guarantee from the government.

    Private backing isn’t what it used to be.

  121. From the video at 0:13:
    “From a distance it looks like a shimmering blue lake in the Mohave desert.”

    The image looks exactly like a large, deep blue lake. That strengthens my (and others’) conjecture that birds are being attracted to it from a distance.

  122. Denise says:
    August 19, 2014 at 12:03 pm
    “I was pretty disturbed about the bird deaths. I’m not convinced that insect deaths are just fine either when in large quantity. But the moment BrightSource are responsible for an airplane crash, it’s a whole new situation. Who thought it was ok to put aviation in danger from something like this?”

    Its a good thing that this potential WMD is controlled by computers (not a person) and as such will be totally immune to possible sabotage by hackers. (SARC)

    I would hate to see the entire array aimed at an airliner by utilizing computerized tracking data from the FAA… or simply swung to a frequently used flight path and altitude.

  123. I have a suggestion: Instead of having mirrors that point up, how about creating a huge movable structure that holds a giant magnifying glass. This is similar to what we did as kids to burn leaves, paper and the occasional insect.

  124. Why no discussion on the fact that each mirror has to be cleaned every two weeks and they rotate the schedule so there’s mirror cleaning each day – using 16,000 gallons of water a DAY? And that maintenance costs may far exceed electrical output? They expect to lose 30,000 mirrors every heavy rainfall as well as erosion and associated byproducts of flooding. 16,000 gallons a day!!! That basically evaporates before it hits the ground.

  125. Jack Cook says:
    August 20, 2014 at 1:53 pm ‘and they rotate the schedule so there’s mirror cleaning each day – using 16,000 gallons of water a DAY? ‘
    This may explain why the grass is greener under the reflectors.
    Looks a good microclimate for the breeding up of insects in the cooler air under the reflectors.
    With an appropriate breeze flying insects would escape the focused part of the beam and attract insectivorous birds, which in turn would attract the raptors.
    So they built a large ‘bird sink’.

  126. I have an idea. It involves the Tesla harmonic resonator.
    We can clear out the navigation hazard in no time.

  127. “””””…..mikeishere says:

    August 19, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    george e. smith says: August 19, 2014 at 12:57 pm Maybe if they used high quality circular parabolic mirrors……”””””

    Please Mike; I said no such thing. You are citing, as a quotation from me, something that was said by someone else.

    And I asserted, that such mirrors, would make no difference whatsoever, to the result. The f/# of the mirrors, is so huge, that the optical tolerance for spherical aberration, is way in excess of the difference between a sphere and a parabola. You couldn’t possibly tell from the image quality, if one of these mirrors, was a perfect sphere, and its neighbor a perfect paraboloid. At these f / # speeds, the flat mirrors would be diffraction limited; and the angular size of the sun, about half a degree, is what totally determines the spot size.

    A quick check in volume one of Conrady, will find you the math.

  128. What the video from upcountrywater up there shows, is that what is visible up there in the sky, is simply an image of the sun, off perhaps a single mirror, in fact almost assuredly a single mirror, since each mirror is oriented to a unique normal vector direction, so it is not possible to get a reflection from more than one mirror at a time. Moreover, because of the lateral spacing of the mirrors, there must be dark zones, in between the mirror reflections.

    So you are seeing a large f/# diffraction limited sun image from a 60 foot “hubcap”. Yes it will blind you, if you look at it too long, but it won’t fry you in an aeroplane, as the hubcap image is so large at that distance.

    Evidently, geometrical optics, is not the forte, of climate skepticism.

  129. @ george e. smith says:
    August 20, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    George take a look at the google images of this place and you will see that the reflection is coming from hundreds of the mirrors if not more, I concede that my parabolic idea was wrong, but I am going to stick with the fact that these mirrors are not even close to being flat and are causing diffusion in every direction

    I haven’t been able to find the info yet, but I feel like the mirrors are mylar stuck to some type of flexible plastic backer, take a look at the construction video, a ridged very flat backer would make a difference I’m sure of it.

  130. “””””…..John ;0) says:

    August 20, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    @ george e. smith says:
    August 20, 2014 at 3:56 pm…..”””””

    Well John, I just took a look at the front picture of that video, I mentioned posted above here, and there is but a single sun image.

    Now you have to differentiate between operating, or non-operating. If you watch the video, you will see the guy bragging about his contraption, and behind him, the mirrors are all pointing either straight up (dangerous) or straight down. I can’t tell which. I have no idea, what the mirrors are made of, but any shiny material, is going to give hubcap images, that you may be seeing, in the google pictures.

    With the system operating, no mirror is directing a sun image towards ground level. The boiler tower is 450 feet tall, so the focal length of even the closest mirrors, have to have a focal length of at least 450 feet, and a minimum radius for a spherical mirror of 900 feet.

    The angular separation of the mirrors, would need to be less than 30 arc minutes, to be able to see a sun image in more than one mirror at a time. I doubt if they are that close. If they are 60 foot mirrors, the would have to be about 6875 feet from the target, to subtend 30 arc minutes at that point. so they would then be about f/115 speed mirrors, and the spherical aberration tolerance would be of the order of the square of that , or about 13,000 wavelengths which is about 6565 microns, which is 6.5 mm.

    So a 60 foot mirror that is spherical, with a 900 ft radius, needs a sag of about 30 x 30 / 1800 = 0.5 feet, or six inches. so maybe you could improve with spheres, but what sphere with six inch sag over 60 feet, will tolerate 100 mph winds.

  131. From the in-flight photo by Anthony, his flight was over Roach Lake about 12 nm northeast of the solar farm and heading northwest.

    If this was early afternoon, the sun would be in the SSW and the mirrors to the southwest of the collectors would be trying to reflect light toward the towers but already struggling to find the proper angle as the geometry would become ever more difficult for the western mirrors as the day wore on. Meanwhile, any “misses” would be aimed northeast almost directly along airway V587 towards the Las Vegas area. Any aircraft transiting the LV area heading southwest on V587 would be staring directly into the mirror arrays. Good luck on spotting traffic ahead with even one of the mirrors (from each array) shining directly at you. This flight appears to have been vectored in a series of tacks so as to keep the solar farm abeam of the plane rather than in front of it.

  132. george e. smith says:
    August 20, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Thanks for typing all that out, I have to say though the last two paragraphs went over my head ;0)

    Clarification, I said the mirrors are about 60 SQ FT (8ft x 8ft) not 60 FT mirrors (60ft x 60ft)” the parabolic Mirrors would also be 60 SQ FT

    Yes I see that the glare is an image of the sun, but what don’t get is how several hundred mirrors could be pointed directly at a camera lens on an airplane several thousand feet in the air if there isn’t significant diffusion caused from crappy floppy mirrors ;0)

    Smoother flatter mirrors should reflect more sunlight onto the tower reducing glare

  133. OK, John , now we have to recalculate. If the mirrors are only 8 feet in diameter, instead of 60, then the radius is 4 ft instead of 30, so 4×4/1800, for a 900 foot radius of curvature , gives 2.7 mm sag.

    So the spherical aberration tolerance is more than double the spherical mirror sag, so can’t distinguish image between flat and sphere.

    For a sphere of radius R, a cap of radius r has a sag given by r^2 = s.(2R-s), so for a small sag you have r^2 = 2Rs.

    From 4-H club geometry, we learn that ANY two chords of a circle , that intersect each other, at a point P, that divides the chords into segments, AP, and PB plus CP and PD, we have :
    APxPB = CPxPD, hence the equation given above when those two lines are perpendicular and one is a diameter of the circle.

    It so happens that the exact same chord segment product rule applies, even if the two chords intersect at a point P that is outside the circle, and points ABCD are all on the circle.

    In the latter case, a special case occurs, when one pair of points, are coincident points, so AB-P is a tangent to the circle, and the other line CDP is a diameter, then we have :

    h x (2R +h) = T^2, where h is the height of P above the circle, and T is the tangent length from P.

    So, for the earth, where 2R >> h, the horizon distance T^2 = 2Rh.

    Well there was a time when people learned all that in school. So now they learn, how to take selfies with a crummy cell phone camera.

  134. Thanks George again for doing all that math, but as a 52 year old with a decent High school education, I can neither do that type of math nor can I get the camera on my smartphone to work ;0) so I guess i’m screwed

    If I understand what you wrote above, a parabolic mirror at that size and focal length is basically flat

    what is you opinion on the difference between the bumpy wobblie mirrors they are using in comparison with something that is extremely flat, in relationship to the total gain of the amount of photons reaching the collector, would there be a measurable gain? 2% 10%

  135. How much does this electricity cost compared with an equivalent gas powered plant?

    24/7 comparing like with like.

  136. If I may, the discussion between george e. smith and John ;0) only tangentially address a key point: These mass produced mirrors are not ideal flat (or spherical, or parabolic) mirrors. They are a pair of “flat” mirrors, held up by a central pivot and steering motors. John make a mention of them being “mylar” on a flexible frame.

    The issue as I see it is that the shapes of the mirrors are so imperfect and/or floppy that a sizable fraction of the sun’s energy is missing the boiler target and becoming a hazard to aircraft. Two possibilities:
    1. the sag on the wings of the frames is creating a dihedral sag with convexity up (toward the boiler) or
    2.the sag of the mylar (if that is what it is) is making for too great a concave upwards curvature that it spreads the sun’s rays over greater than a degree.
    Also, what are the dynamic wind forces on those theoretical mirror plane surfaces?

    What percent of the incident sun’s energy on the mirror array actually hits the boiler? What is left is leakage, solar shrapnel, directly affecting aircraft flying or looking at the wrong place at the wrong time.

  137. Concerning the imperfect shapes of the mirrors.

    0:15 “what looks like a shimmering blue lake in the Mojave Desert.” (unintentional support by the reporter that birds would be attracted to a “blue lake”).

    0:17-0:19 a close up of a pair of mirrors on a heliostat. The wavy reflection pattern is caused by the mounting underneath is obvious. They are not planes. At best, they are corrugated shapes, cylindrically concave upward for 90% of the surface with 10% necessarily convex upward at the mounting points.

    0:26-0:35 walking on a path between helio stats.

    0:36-0:37 Excellent close up of the underside of a heliostat. Each mirror in the pair is supported by 3 triangular trusses (about 3 feet apart) with 7 mirror mounting points. Each truss is attached to a main mounting pipe (?six inches in diameter) and ?16 feet long) that serves as the horizontal axis.

    The material of the mirrors is uncertain. We could be looking at the back side of a glass mirror. If the mirror surface is mylar (I’m skeptical), it is on a sheet metal or composite backing board. But the back side of the mirror is not the same color as the aluminum truss.

    0:52 Close up of the tower. 450 feet tall.
    The black part is about 1/7 the height of the tower, or about 60-70 feet tall and 40-50 feet wide.

    Given that the sun is 30 arc minutes wide, how far can a perfectly flat mirror be before that 30 arc-minutes is larger than the boiler? Assume 50 foot target. 25 feet = D * tan(15 arc min). = D*0.004363351; D = 5730 ft.
    But, if the heliostats themselves are 16 feet wide, then the target must be correspondingly narrower, 34 feet, not 50. 17 feet = D * tan(15 arc min). D = 3900 feet if the 16 foot wide heliostat is perfectly flat. So it is not the distance that is causing the solar shrapnel, but mirror imperfections.

    1:13-1:18 Reporter: “So there’s steam going up into the sky, but no CO2″.
    Manager: “You’ve got it. That’s exactly right.”
    Humph – If this place uses natural gas to preheat the boiler for at least 1 hour per day and there is application to increase that to 5 hours per day, it is NOT “Exactly right”. Lyre Lyre Pants on Fyre!

    1:48-1:58 $22 million dollars to … relocate 200 tortoises into pens on the property. [$90K per tortoise? Is that the best use of money? And why pen them up? So they don't get run over by the fleet of mirror washer machines, of course.]

    1:59: quick shot of mirror array, probably taken from the tower, with only a few heliostats aimed at the sun. Vast majority are neutral (for safety of the videographer of course). I first noticed this image as imperfect aiming, but it is a contrived arrangement for the video.

  138. 0:36-0:37 Excellent close up of the underside of a heliostat. Each mirror in the pair is supported by 3 triangular trusses (about 3 feet apart) with 7 mirror mounting points.
    Look at the structure and think about differential thermal expansion of the parts, particularly the difference between the ?aluminum pipe and truss and whatever the mirror plate is. There doesn’t need to be much difference in the expansion coefficients for a crinkling corrugation of the mirror to manifest.

  139. “””””…..John ;0) says:

    August 20, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    ………………………………
    If I understand what you wrote above, a parabolic mirror at that size and focal length is basically flat

    what is you opinion on the difference between the bumpy wobblie mirrors they are using in comparison with something that is extremely flat, in relationship to the total gain of the amount of photons reaching the collector, would there be a measurable gain? 2% 10%…..”””””

    John, let’s just guess that a typical mirror is 1,000 feet away from the target, it would require a 2,000 ft radius of curvature to actually act like a spherical mirror. Parabolizing it would be futile, even if such a say 10 ft diameter circular mirror, actually held its shape.

    The sun disk, subtends about 30 minutes of arc; shall we say 1/120th of a radian.

    So a perfect parabolic mirror, would make a sun image at the target, that is 1000 / 120 or 8 1/3 rd feet in diameter. well a perfect spherical mirror, would give exactly the same image. A perfect flat mirror, must make an image as large as the mirror, and that will be expanded by the angular size of the source.

    So the image, 1,000 feet away is going to be somewhere in the 18 foot diameter range, plus diffraction effects, and any angular errors of the mirror surface are magnified by two. Good mirrors need to be four times as accurate as good lens surfaces, because the deflection depends on n-1, and a mirror acts like a lens with n = -1, so n-1 =-2, versus 0.5 for a lens made of index 1.5 glass.

    So a minute of arc slope error on some part of a flat mirror surface, will displace the sun image from that region, by two minutes of arc.

    Good quality protected Aluminum mirrors, only have about 85% reflectance. that is when new. After fifty years out in the sun, being washed every day, they are going to be as scratched as all get out, and quite scattering.

  140. Stephen Rasey says:
    August 21, 2014 at 11:31 am

    “So it is not the distance that is causing the solar shrapnel, but mirror imperfections.”

    True, but there are other factors conspiring against hitting the target. First, most of the mirrors do not have a straight shot. The towers appear to be square in cross section and aligned with the square mirror fields, so many of the corner mirrors have to deal with horizontal angularity and the closest mirrors have significant vertical angularity.

    Of course there are various atmospheric scattering effects as noted in various photos.

    And there is the matter of the aiming process. There are hundreds of thousands of mirrors and controlling motors x 2, I would assume. So there is likely some tolerance for imperfect aim in order to reduce energy demands and wear-and-tear on the mechanical gear. As the sun swings across the sky each mirror likely moves in a series of jumps and each reflection will jump to one edge of the target and then move smoothly to the far side of the target area. At some point in time a certain number of drive systems will have failed and will be awaiting repair.

  141. @Sciguy54 8/22 6:05 am
    True, but there are other factors conspiring against hitting the target. First, most of the mirrors do not have a straight shot.
    That brings up an interesting question. For mirrors near the edge, and low sun angle, how much of the light from one mirror hits the back of the next inward mirror? As the light reflects off the aluminum and mirror back, it would produce a lot of solar shrapnel.

    And there is the matter of the aiming process.
    Certainly accuracy is required here. You need to have accuracy of aiming to within 5 arc minutes with mirrors on the periphery with every day different from the previous day given the solar analemma of the location.

    On the issue of mirror corrugation from gravity and thermal expansion differences as a deterioration of aiming:
    What is the maximum sag allowable in the mirrors when they are mounted on supports X meters wide? Let’s model segments of each mirror panel between the supports as a cylinder R meters in diameter with a chord X meters wide and a 10 arc-minute allowable aiming error (the angle between the circle and the chord at the mount.)
    Distance between supports = 1. meter
    half-chord = R*sin(a) = 0.50 meter
    a = Angle btw circle, chord = a = 10. arc-min = 0.002909 radian
    Radius = Half_Chord/sin(a) = 171.89 meter
    Sag/R= (1-cos(a)) = 0.00000423
    Sag/R= (1-cos(a)) = 4.23 ppm = flatness error = 4 parts per million!
    Sag= (1-cos(a))*R = 0.727221 mm
    Arc-length = R*a = 0.500001 meters
    Expansion difference = Arc-length – Chord = 0.000705 mm = 0.7 microns.

    So over a supported span of 1 meter, you can have less than a millimeter of sag in the middle of the mirror before you exceed the 10 arc-min aiming error. This also means that the difference in thermal expansion between the mount and the mirror cannot exceed 1 part per million of the chord length.

    And what does the wind do to the aiming precision and flatness of the mirror?

  142. How much heliostat turbulence in the wind can it stand? Assume a heliostat consists of two 8×8 foot mirrors (2.5 meters). When the wind blows, the mirrors will shake on the vertical axis. How much can they move?
    W = Panel wing width = 2.50 meters
    Distance from tower = 2000.00 feet (assumption, allowable shake is a function of distance)
    Width of tower = 50.00 feet (guess from video)
    Allowable error in aim = 20.0 feet (assumption)
    angle subtended by error = 0.0100 radian
    Ae = angle subtended by error = 0.57 deg
    Allowable error angle of mirror = Ae/2 = 0.29 deg
    Movement at end of panel wing = W*sin(Ae/2) = 12.50 mm

    So the end of the heliostat mirror can move +/- a half inch at 2000 feet and still hit the target.

  143. Protected migratory species, endangered and threatened species, all given the Popeye’s Spicy Fried treatment…

    One bird every two minutes based on one point of observation on the ground at one of three “natural rotisseries”…bet it’s several times that number of birds if you looked at the whole complex at one time…Roasted Rara Avis, mmmmmmmmmMMMMMMMmmmmmm.
    If you gathered all those roasted ravens, Flambe’d Flamingos, Singed swallows, Popped puffins, glowing geese, inflamed ibex, hot hawks, charred chickadees, percolated partridges, and … I could go on forever…if you gathered all those cooked birds up, you could feed a lot of folks!

    Cue Mary Poppins singing:
    “Feed the Poor, tuppence a Bird…tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bird…”

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