The World’s Largest Solar Power Plant Is Now Operational But Has Created A Problem That Seems Unsolvable

ivanpah_solar (2)

On February 13, 2014, an enormous power plant began operation in the Mojave Desert. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is now operational after years of construction and testing.

ivanpah_solar (1)

Just to give you an idea of how big this project is, the plant covers an area of 5.5 square miles, making it the largest on Earth. The system will generate 30 percent of the entire solar thermal energy produced in the United States. There are three, 459-feet tall towers which are surrounded by more than 300,000 mirrors each of which is the size of a garage door. The mirrors focus sunlight on to the giant water boiler at the top of each tower. The heat produced by the mirrors is so intensely concentrated that it boils the water and turns it to steam which is used to drive the turbines that generate electricity.

ivanpah_solar (3)

However, all is not well. The mirrors produce such large amounts of heat that they have scorched birds flying over the plant. This has obviously raised controversies about the project, but the supporters of green energy pushed forward in the hopes that the birds will learn to change their flying patterns. For now, the solar facility is posing a threat to local birds and causing deaths.
The plant will power 140,000 homes in California, USA which has long been a place that is known for utilizing green energy on a large scale. It is the place where wind energy is also used to harvest power.

ivanpah_solar (1)

When compared to wind energy, solar power is both more efficient and more dependable. The amount of sunlight in a desert is almost constant everyday, whereas wind patterns are changing throughout the year and using a single setup of wind turbines to harness energy from all of them is difficult. Wind power can be used alongside solar power, but when your need is to provide power to 140,000 homes, the latter source is the better option.


  1. Dilupa Reply

    wow..this is amazing. I thought that using solar panels is the best option when it comes to conversion of solar energy. but this is a way better method to do so.

  2. Gawsalyan Reply

    You can use holographic images of predatory birds with ultrasonic sound every where in the sky, it will make the birds to stop trespassing through the region.

  3. ali mumtaz Reply

    simply the whole plant is cover by the transparent mirror sheet…
    means make a transparent mirror huge room …it consumes alooot of mirrors but the projest will save and definately will work perfect….

  4. AZMZahid Reply

    I prefer to address the fact that the project is generating so much heat and frying these birds…are you telling me that this is a permanent source of hear contributing to the global warming of the atmosphere? I can only imagine the negative environmental effect it would have to surrounding areas…which must have been accounted for in any EIA done…or maybe just ignored for the sake of the success of the project…green technology? I am beginning to wonder what that really means…not helping with the environment at all isn’t it…say wot?

  5. erwin vista Reply

    The best simple solution for this problem is to accept the death of those birds as a collateral damages in exchange to the benefit of the solar plants to the environment . The renewable green energy produce by this plant will deminish polutants in the atmosphere thereby giving a healthy clean air to breath not only to the birds but to all living things on earth. Environmentalist and other animal rights advocates usually make a big issue out of maybe 10 birds or a hundred birds decaying on that premises just for publicity that their group still cares ,. Another solution for the happiness of these animal right group is to force the owner of the power plant to set aside a budget to raise , feed and protect a million birds in a sanctuary so as to replinish those birds that died because of those plants. ( Including other renewable plants .. windmills , geothermal, ocean wave , etc.).

  6. MD. Nayem Reply

    by using colored glasses(may be red or blue or violet)so the light beams will be colored.birds will get the idea that they r not allowed.tell me if its helpful or not.

  7. Paul William Bagtas Reply

    Use Solar powered Drones disguised as hawk or eagle to fly around. Pre-program to chase away bird near in the area.

  8. Ayman Hussein Reply

    For the current situation the solution should be to use ultra sound and magnetic waves to make a field around the planet this should deter the birds away. I am pretty sure that that the people who’s in charge with the project have already thought about this.

    But for a future project I believe an inverted pyramid shape feild inside the ground with magnifying lenses instead of mirrors focusing the sun rays in to the inverted pyramid peak, where the water tanker that is going to create the steam is located. A smaller field will be required as The magnifying glasses will create a much more intense heat than the mirrors and going in to the ground will create automatically magnetic feilds out of the minerals of the ground soil . Most of the cost will be the the digging of the ground.
    Definatley it’s a pleminary idea . I hope this solution is better for you. If you need a more detailed explanation please don’t hesitate to contact me.
    Kind regards
    Ayman Hussein

  9. Mahbub Rahman Reply

    Sun is better than wind ,no Sun no wind ,+way more energy from the sun overall.

  10. Mahbub Rahman Reply

    Should disrupt the magnetic field , alter it so that the birds can fly around the towers at a safe distance. Once past they can return to their course of flight.

  11. Christo Kruger Reply

    Not that I have the answer, but maybe one should not concentrate on how to keep the birds away, but more on how to utilize the heat. Since this is a solar plant, the more the heat is utilized the more efficient the plant will be and the less the heat will be reflected into the surrounding area. Or is it a matter that the direct beams from the mirrors actually scorch the birds

  12. Max Tjellander Reply

    Please wonderfulengineering, you are a nice website, but don’t say sun is better than wind, that might be for a few countries. In north of europe for instance we produce a whole lot more electricity from wind than sun…

  13. Ian Henderson Reply

    Stick a fake bird of prey on top of the solar collector tower thingy. That should keep the birds lower down the food chain away from the danger zone 😛

  14. vinay kumar kurava Reply

    Placing of some sensors and ultrasonic waves will helps to deviate the birds those traveling on the solar power plants.

  15. Prem Chandran Reply

    Read some where about birds ability to respond to earths magnetic field …why dont concentrate on the same thing ….create some opposing magnetic field around the facility….help them to steer away themselves..

  16. udhaya shankar Reply

    One possible solution is use of ultrasonic waves , which possibly would never allow birds into the region of steam power plant and birds wont be harmed as’well…. ref:

  17. Era Reply

    If the bird problem is the only problem, then it is not really a big problem at all… So many marine species die each day due to the building of oil rigs and oil leakages from the process of obtaining oil or during the transportation of oil… Millions of chickens, cows, pigs are slaughtered each year for food… Why are their lives less valuable than the lives of the birds that fly over the solar plant?

  18. Alexander Seetahal Reply

    Se puede colocar un Sistema de lásers a determinada distancia y al pasar las aves activen un dispositivo que haga aparecer un predador falso emitiendo un sonido grabado. Así las aves serán alertadas de forma visual y auditiva e inmediatamente cambiarán el rumbo.

  19. Atta ur Rehman Reply

    Solar air conditioning
    the combination of lithium bromide and water or such as other substance may use. One end of the system of expansion/condensation pipes is heated, and the other end gets cold enough to make ice. Originally, natural gas was used as a heat source. Today, propane is used in recreational vehicle absorption chiller refrigerators. Innovative hot water solar thermal energy collectors can also be used as the modern “free energy” heat source thus can be act as thermostats and maintain natural wind temp

  20. Maamoun Bino Reply

    1- thirsty birds assume that mirror reflection is water reflection and approach to plant to get water , so if plant area will be surrounded by water pools , birds will divert away from the plant .
    2- an old technique called scarecrow , you may use a flying object in shape of eagle around the plant .

  21. Vinesh Shah Reply

    Cage the whole area from the sides, with the spacing big enough for a lot of sunlight to pass, but small enough to stop most of the birds from entering to the heights where the intensity is too much. The birds will have to fly high (which will lower the intensity of the heat) or go around the caging (which might avoid most of the deaths)… this will reduce the power generation by a very small bit, but save the lives of many creatures on our planet… 🙂

  22. Steve Simpson Reply

    create a wind/ air pocket that forces the birds up or across the plant faster. or use sonar equipment as a deterrent

  23. Steve Simpson Reply

    Birds body function on 7-9 hertz calibrate a system that disrupts their frequency and deter them from flying over the plant

  24. Ajay singh Reply

    For birds nature is the solution keep the predators of sky eagle trained by men as they r used in airport it is possible nd animals learns from mistakes if they r thretin by death or eagle they will not pass by the prob. Is not bird the prob. Is mirror is to be washed evry day,nd it helpless at nite,nd it can only be worked only for 300 days in year coz any where in world it lest rain 4 65 days,it is good for falactution in electricity,coz it is big prob 4 overseas nation coz some nation nite then other have day thus flactuation of energy takes place…..this plant idea is good but is lacking some how…

  25. Naseef Qaimkhani Reply

    How do birds feel about flashing lights? If they dislike them, consider a few mirrors aimed above the boiler with rotating mirrors, flashing it in multiple directions. Maybe not sunlight, any light they very much dislike?

  26. Derek Reply

    Simple solution maybe, why couldn’t their just a program implemented which would could possibly rotate the mirrors away long enough for the birds to past by. They could have an operator or just sensors to decide when the program would run? Just an idea

  27. mepa Reply

    They should implement this:
    -Using sonic cannons, recorded predator calls and other noise generators to disrupt birds
    -Using lasers at dawn and dusk to simulate predators and scare birds away.

    It will somehow lessen the problem.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *