Giant Solar Plant in Mojave Could Flip Airplanes
Mammoth Ivanpah plant gives rise to many safety concerns
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2012 4:36 PM CDT
A photo of BrightSource Energy’s Luz Power Tower in Israel's Negev Desert.   (AP Photo/BrightSource, Eilon Paz)

(Newser) – The largest solar energy plant in the world could bring a surprising array of dangers to the Mojave Desert when constructed is completed, reports the LA Times. First off, it's huge: 170,000 large mirrors will be installed at the Ivanpah plant, heating water in three 45-story towers to 1,000 degrees. Critics say no one can specify the dangers because no solar plant has been bulit on this scale—but it might vaporize birds, blind drivers miles away, flip small airplanes, or even attract Air Force heat-seeking missiles.

With a new airport for Las Vegas proposed just six miles away, heat plume interference from the solar plant could be a deadly threat. "If you hit a plume dead center, you have one wing in and one wing out of it. It would flip an airplane in a heartbeat," says the operator of the nearby Blythe airport, who adds that his complaints have been ignored. "It was a joke." Even if Ivanpah is safe, there are applications pending for 100 other solar plants in the Mojave. "It's an experiment on a grand scale," says one scientist.

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Jan 17, 2013 8:24 AM CST
It could also give your children cancer, raise gun crime in the US and create 3 headed mutant desert turtles! You. Can’t. Prove. Otherwise.
Jun 25, 2012 5:11 PM CDT
News story raises several questions as who would have interests to oppose a solar farm. Using media as leverage to stomp out competition is pretty dumb. Concept is intriguing. Plain mirrors are cheap and controls are fairly basic. After quick glance it seems to rival an average coal plant in terms of output. I bet investors will be laughing all the way to the bank while nasty, old hydrocarbon geezers cry.
Jun 25, 2012 9:15 AM CDT
First of all, who the hell builds an airport in the desert... Second of all, are they seriously complaining about us making good use of a DESERT? Deserts are notoriously the most useless piece of land... short of Vegas but that's debatable too.