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New Enemy for Solar Tower Plants: The Air Force

The Basic Idea: Put a couple hundred mirrors in the desert and hook them up to motors that keep them perpetually reflecting sunlight at a specific point. That point, of course, gets extremely hot, and that heat can then be converted into electricity. It's a fantastic idea...fairly low-tech, and it can use existing electrical-generation equipment and even store power (as heat) for use at night!

The Problem: People who fly sophisticated fighter jets in intricate and dangerous patterns aren't big fans of being blinded by a square mile of mirrored earth.

The Result: Nellis Air Force Base (who we've mentioned several times in more positive connections with solar power projects) is asking the BLM to deny an application by SolarReserve to build a $700 M solar tower power plant on it's (extremely sunny) land. Nellis, of course, has no problem with solar power, and actually has the US's largest current solar installation (as of buy levitra on the internet mid-2009.) But coating its land in mirrors turned out to be too much for the base.

The Air Force, in fact, is not saying precisely why they don't want the power plant. They say it could interfere with radar systems, but, more importantly, there are other reasons...all of which are classified. Col. Howard D. Belote, installation commander at Nellis said, "Because of the sensitivity [of information], I can't tell them why. Unfortunately for them and us, there's stuff on the dose levitra Nevada testing range we don't tell anyone about."

We assume it has something to do with the aliens.

But it just goes to show, there are a lot of unforeseen obstacles in this new world of renewable power generation. We're going to only now cialis how much have to be ready for them.

Via Washington Post

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Comments (16)Add Comment
written by David, June 22, 2009
So, the ability to effectively blow things up is more important than clean energy. I guess they want more nuclear plants...
written by Airman Joe, June 22, 2009
what an ignorant comment by David. Without air and space superiority, there would be no United States. Period.
In fact, the Emcore Corporation has been awarded a $5.7 million contract from the Air Force for the development of high-efficiency photovoltaic solar cells.
written by Noel, June 22, 2009
I sure hope the classified reasons are good ones. But I'm pretty sure the air force would have supported the project if it didn't interfere with their, whatever it is, classified routine.
written by ..., June 22, 2009
I don't think that I would call having the best weapons to bomb developing nations anything close to superior.
PS: typo on the first line "he" instead of "the"
written by eric schmidt, June 22, 2009
Unless there are some kind of canadian viagra electromagnetic side effects from the operating equipment that are not widely known (and I am no expert), all they have to do is avoid flying through the levitra costs focus of the mirror configuration to not be blinded (which should be pretty easy, there is a big tower at that spot...).

The mirrors are aimed precisely enough that at any point outside the focus, I think at maximum 1 or 2 mirrors will happen to levitra price be aimed at you, reflecting the sun. And the reflection is no different than if you happened to see the sun in a lake.

written by shek, June 22, 2009
The light reflected to the tower is highly divergent and wouldn't blind anyone flying overhead (unless they happened to fly right into the top of the tower, but that's pretty close to the ground). IMHO, the USAF has something out there that they want to keep the viagra online canada lid on, which is certainly a reasonable concern.
Sonic Booms?
written by Carl Hage, June 22, 2009
I can't think of any reason why a field of mirrors would be a problem. Maybe they don't want *any* power stations in the area. Perhaps they just don't want to be liable for breaking glass from sonic booms, although the Mythbusters just showed it's not easy to break them. I'm skeptical of "classified" reasons-- secrecy is online cialis soft all too often used to cover up nonsense.

Note that unless the computers purposely aim the mirrors at a plane, or they fly the plane next to the tower, they won't get blinded. The mirrors are all pointed in different directions, so at twice the height of the tower, the light concentration is the same as light hitting the soft tab cialis ground.
Why Not Thermal Towers?
written by Andrew Krenitz, June 23, 2009
No Mirrors, Will take up the same space and generate power at night?
written by Peter Lane, June 24, 2009
So why is paving the desert with silicon a good thing? Rather than ruin an environment that people don't understand (no green trees and buy prescription propecia fluffy mammals), put the money and effort to work paving the asphalt parking lots (solar car ports) and roof tops of sample of levitra online the already destroyed environment first.
written by no, June 24, 2009
Maybe they are worried the focus controls could be hijacked and used to take out their aircraft?
@PLane & ...
written by shek, June 24, 2009
Paving the desert with silicon? Solar power towers don't use PV cells. The concentrated light is used to heat a working fluid to create steam that is converted to electricity via a turbine.

I have a feeling it could be VERY difficult if not impossible to focus the array of mirrors at an arbitrary point in space that is several thousand feet of the ground, moving at several hundred MPH, especially since the mirrors are designed to track a very slow moving sun. It'd probably be much more likely for someone to sneak shoulder fired SAMs onto the base.
written by Fred, July 01, 2009
flying in the air while mirror is shining in your eyes does not seem safe
Utter nonsense
written by Bob, July 01, 2009
The whole point is to put all the light on the receiver in the tower. The mirrors are plane (i.e. flat) mirrors that individually don't focus anything; they are just a specular reflection. There will be scattered light from the receiver, but gee, there's a big bright light up in the sky as well, and the simple answer is: don't look at it.

Someone in the Air Force understands geometry, but clearly whomever is cheap viagra paypal coming up with this drivel doesn't.

The big problem is that the USAF thinks that the deserts exist solely to provide low-level routes for their training missions. I think the comment about sonic booms breaking mirrors might not be far off.

BTW, for those saying the towers are too short to the best choice generic cialis be a problem, you haven't seen a fighter down on the deck. They fly way lower than the top of that tower. That itself isn't a problem, there are radio antennas, smokestacks and all sorts of crap that stick up that high. And guess what, they exist in every other country too so the pilots better learn to fly without running into them.
Let's bring this country back..
written by Concerned Citizen, July 01, 2009
Airman Joe "what an ignorant comment by David. Without air and space superiority, there would be no United States. Period."

Uh, have you ever heard of Mexico, Switzerland, Brazil, Peru, Thailand, ... Don't think they have much air superiority. It a matter of priorities and where we need to put our public tax dollars. We need to be leaders of the free world, not destroyers of the free world, otherwise we will degrade into a second class world citizen, which is exactly where we had been heading with Bush and his militaristic BS.

We need to get to sustainable: energy, economy, environment, farming, ... and get back to leading this world to a better place.
It's the aliens stupid
written by BillyT, July 01, 2009
Some pretty ignorant comments here - obviously the field of mirrors will interfere with the top-secret alien landing beacon that the AF has out there in the desert - you can see it clearly on Google (or at least you can see the spot where they've airbrushed it out). Go and look if you don't believe me.
written by Red, July 01, 2009
I want to quaff a few Romulan Ales with BillyT...
Where exactly is that top-secret alien landing beacon?

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