Ivanpah wing toasting facility toasts Ivanpah wing toasting facility

Ivanpah facility toasted itself instead of birds on Thursday. Photo by James Ulvog.
Ivanpah facility toasted itself instead of birds on Thursday. Photo by James Ulvog.

The solar facility that typically sets birds on fire scored itself big time on Thursday.

One of the solar collecting towers at Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System had a fire about two-thirds of the way up the tower. Early reports indicate some of the garage-door sized mirrors were misaligned and focused the searing heat on the middle part of tower instead of the collector. The heat reportedly started a number of electrical cables on fire.

The solar generator set itself on fire instead of setting birds on fire which generates visible streamers. Those are birds started on fire and falling to the ground streaming smoke.

After you stop laughing at the astounding irony, consider the danger to birds when some small number of mirrors can start wiring on fire and melt duct work. What does that do to birds that are drawn to the light and heat or just happen to fly nearby?

Here are a few articles on the self-inflicted fire:

5/20 – Los Angeles Times – Fire breaks out at world’s largest solar power plant near Nevada border – One tower is down for maintenance, this one is down for a while, leaving only one tower available to continue torching birds and producing electricity.

5/20 – Gizmodo – The World’s Largest Solar Plant Just Torched Itself – The tower that torched itself will be off-line for an unknown about of time.

The Ivanpah facility has not been able to produce the contractually required output. They had to get special dispensation to continue operating or they would be in violation of their contract, which in turn would give customers right to rescind the contract.

The loss of one tower will make it even more difficult to meet their production requirement.

5/19 – Associated Press at Las Vegas Sun – Mirrors blamed for fire at Ivanpah solar plant near Primm

All three articles included a photo which showed steam ducts and water pipes that were melted and scorched.

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