The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the world’s largest solar plant, has had its share of troubles, including reports that it was scorching birds that flew over it, that it wasn’t producing the energy it was projected to produce, and that it was in dire financial difficulty. This week may well top all of that . . . the solar plant set itself on fire.
A generating tower at the world’s largest solar energy plant was shut down Thursday after a mirror misalignment caused sunlight to burn through electrical wiring and start a small fire, according to officials.
The blaze at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert broke out around 9:30 a.m., according to the San Bernardino County Fire Department. In a Facebook post, officials said that flames could be seen near the ninth floor of the Unit 3 tower, but that they had apparently died out by the time firefighters arrived.
The plant is located near Interstate 15, just inside the California border southwest of Primm, Nev. It uses enormous mirrors to reflect sunlight to boilers atop three towers. The sun’s energy heats the water to more than 1,000 degrees, creating steam that spins electricity-generating turbines.
Apparently the fire was small enough to be put out by a plant worker manning a fire extinguisher.
William Dusenbury, general manager of Ivanpah, said a plant worker used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire.
“It wasn’t a big fire at all,” he said.
Workers are still repairing some of the damaged cables, and there was no estimate on when the tower would be back online, he said.
Clark County Fire Rescue 87 from Jean, Nev., also assisted in the response.
Only one of three towers is currently operating, with the fire shutting down one and another undergoing maintenance, Dusenbury said.
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