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Published 25 June 2012 10:08, Updated 26 June 2012 06:18
In California’s Ivanpah Valley plans for large-scale solar power production are sparking questions from a host of often disparate groups, including bird watchers, road safety experts and the US Air Force.
The questions have been asked in a bid to determine if there are any previously unforeseen consequences of building solar power plants big enough to provide electricity to small towns.
The debate centres on solar power plant under construction near the California-Nevada border that will feature more than 170,000 garage-door size mirrors bouncing solar radiation at massive water filled towers.
The California Energy Commission approved the project in 2010, but concerns continue to swirl around a huge heat plume the power station is expected to generate as the sun’s rays heat water to steam to drive electricity generation.
According to the Los Angles Times, the “project’s whiz-bang technology has confounded government regulators’ ability to analyse the facility, in part because nothing of its type and size exists anywhere else in the world”.
These are some of the questions the LA Times says people are now trying to answer:
If the fears seem like they could be a little far-fetched, the California paper cites a 30-year-old study of a solar plant near Barstow where evidence was found of birds perishing as they flew through the solar field.
How the Ivanpah solar plant works.Source: MCT