BrightSource’s Ivanpah CPS Bird Fatalities Controversy

by Mariah Valerie Barber

In February 2014, nearly a year ago, BrightSource Energy, Inc.’s Ivanpah concentrating social power (CSP) plant officially opened in Southern California’s Mojave Desert, after four years of construction. The Ivanpah power plant uses heliostat, software controlled mirror technology to concentrate the sun’s solar rays and direct them to a water tower. The concentrated sunlight is then reflected onto boilers that create steam which is used to generate power by utilizing a turbine (http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/how-it-works#.VMgGAHDF8lQ). Ivanpah is currently the world’s largest concentrated solar plant, occupying around five square miles, with 173,500 large “garage-door” sized heliostat mirrors directed to central power towers. BrightSource developed Ivanpah and is now partially owned by Google and NRG Energy. Currently Ivanpah is working towards reaching its full energy producing capacity. Once Ivanpah is operating at full capacity it will be able to generate 140,000 homes annually. Continue reading

Brightness in the Desert: Reflective Overshot in Ivanpah Power Towers

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by Emil Morhardt

Flying back to LA from New York the other day, just when I thought we should begin descending, a bright light flooded the cabin from the north. It was emanating from the ground, I’d estimate 50 miles or so away, and was too bright to look at directly—it seemed about as bright as the sun. I couldn’t take a picture until we were way past it, and then through a dirty window, from 35,000 feet, on my iPhone, but you can get the idea from the picture above. I don’t know what my fellow passengers who were actually looking out the window thought…UFO maybe…but I knew just what it was: light reflected past the collectors from the three power towers BrightSource Energy (http://bit.ly/1pkD6D80) has erected in Ivanpah Valley, along Interstate 15 just west of the Nevada state line. Fully on, which the must have been, they produce 377 MW of electricity by using a semicircular array of mirrors to reflect sunlight onto boilers at the top of three towers. From the ground, the tops of the towers are lit up, but nothing else. From 35,000 ft at the right location they produce a powerful beacon reflecting a good deal of light back into space. Why? Continue reading