What Does a Solar Farm Meltdown Look Like?

Concentrated sunlight has the ability to inflict significant damage, and that is exactly what happened at the Ivanpah solar power plant in 2016.

The Ivanpah facility is a concentrated solar power plant. It has a huge array of mirrors that focus sunlight in order to generate heat to run a turbine and produce electricity. Since the sun is always moving, the mirrors need to continuously adjust themselves to ensure that sunlight is getting focused at the right location.




The tracking system at Ivanpah malfunctioned, and fired the concentrated beam of sunlight at a vulnerable section of the plant.

Image Credit: San Bernardino County Fire Department

This resulted in ducts, pipes, and wires getting destroyed.

Image Credit: www.engadget.com

Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident. Concentrated solar power plants such as this have started going out of style in the last couple of years due to both high cost and environmental concerns. From the cost standpoint, solar panel farms are much less expensive. From an environmental standpoint, the concentrated solar power plants are known to hurt birds that fly through the beams of focused sunlight.