Report: That new $1.6 billion loan-guaranteed solar farm is basically a “mega-trap” for flying wildlife
posted at 8:41 pm on April 9, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
This is practically old news at this point, but… come on. Via the Desert Sun:
A new report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has labeled BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah project a “mega-trap” for insects and birds that may get singed or in some cases, burned alive flying through the intense solar radiation reflecting off the thousands of mirrors surrounding three solar towers at the plant in eastern San Bernardino County.
The Center for Biological Diversity posted the report to the California Energy Commission website on Monday as part of its testimony opposing BrightSource’s 500-megawatt Palen project, located east of the Coachella Valley, which would use similar technology — soaring solar towers surrounded by thousands of reflecting mirrors. …
Particularly chilling is a section on the apparent incineration of birds and insects at the site, reported by staff from the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement (OLE), who visited Ivanpah Oct. 21-24, 2013. …
“When OLE staff visited the Ivanpah Solar plant, we observed many streamer events. It is claimed that these events represent the combustion of loose debris, or insects. Although some of the events are likely that, there were instances in which the amount of smoke produced by the ignition could only be explained by a larger flammable biomass such as a bird. Indeed, OLE staff observed birds entering the solar flux and igniting, consequently becoming a streamer.
I would merely like to reiterate, once again, that mass bird deaths via solar farm (and don’t even get me started on wind farms) might very well be a equitable price to pay if this solar farm was otherwise worth its salt. Honestly, I could easily forgive the birds deaths if it were serving as a competitive and cost-effective alternative form of energy. The oil industry, for instance, ends up killing some wildlife in their production processes, too, and plain ol’ tall buildings bring down plenty of birds every year — but the problem is that this Ivanpah solar farm is not serving as a competitive and cost-effective alternative form of energy. It was only built because it received a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, on top of the tax credits and renewable portfolio standards that are otherwise propping it up, and the concentrating solar power (CSP) technology it employs comes nowhere close to providing energy as affordable as the value we’re currently getting from natural-gas plants. Green energy’s rent-seeking power players are trying to decide if it’s even worth replicating the CSP tech with a new project, or if Ivanpah should remain the first and only large-scale project of its kind — and bird incineration is just the icing on the cake.