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Proposed Solar Project Could Run Into Trouble with the Military

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Solar Reserve’s proposal to build at least eight more solar power towers immediately north of Tonopah, Nevada probably will face an uphill battle, but not for the reasons you expect.  A review of documents submitted by the company to the Department of Interior regarding its proposed Sandstone Solar project suggests poor attention has been paid so far to the threat the project may pose to military aviation. The project would cover nearly 25 square miles with thousands of giant mirrors to reflect the sun's light.  Glint and glare emanating from the project could temporarily impair the vision of aircrew transiting a low-level military flight corridor next to the project, based on a study conducted by Sandia National Laboratories.

According to the Sandia study, the glint and glare emanating from mirrors associated with solar power tower projects can cause temporary after images (temporary vision impairment) for people within six miles of the project. This impact radius would affect n…