Epic Solar Power Fail Gets Even More Epic-er

Last we checked in on the $2.2 billion Ivanpah solar power facility out in the California desert, it was in danger of being shut down because it was failing to produce the promised amount of electricity, despite all that free desert sunshine. (Before that we reported on how it was merely incinerating birds by the hundreds.)

Well it gets better. Yesterday Ivanpah managed the feat of setting itself on fire:

PRIMM, Nev. (AP) — A small fire shut down a generating tower Thursday at the world’s largest solar power plant, leaving the sprawling facility on the California-Nevada border operating at only a third of its capacity, authorities said.

Firefighters had to climb some 300 feet up a boiler tower at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California after fire was reported on an upper level around 9:30 a.m., fire officials said.

The plant works by using mirrors to focus sunlight on boilers at the top of three 459-foot towers, creating steam that drive turbines to produce electricity.

But some misaligned mirrors instead focused sunbeams on a different level of Unit 3, causing electrical cables to catch fire, San Bernardino County, California fire Capt. Mike McClintock said. . .

The plant can produce enough power for 140,000 California homes, but a second tower is shut down for maintenance, leaving only one running.

But here’s the most fun sentence in the story:

It was not immediately clear what impact that would have on California’s electricity supply.

Seriously? Duh.