A spring 2013 Forbes magazine piece reported the giant wind turbines producing wind energy kill around 600,000 birds annually. But the number is likely higher. And now we learn that the solar panels soaking up solar energy are acting like bug zappers, frying birds who fly near them. The thermal panels generate intense heat that have been found already to melt some birds’ feathers.
Workers at the solar plant in the Mojave Desert call the birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — “streamers,” for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair
A BrightSource Energy project has raised the
stakes for a similar projects across the country, especially those near
wildlife sanctuaries, and near the migration routes of birds
Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version.
The investigators want the halt until the full extent of the deaths can be assessed. Estimates per year now range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.
The deaths are “alarming. It’s hard to say whether that’s the location or the technology,” said Garry George, renewable-energy director for the California chapter of the Audubon Society. “There needs to be some caution.”
The bird kills mark the latest instance in which the quest for clean energy sometimes has inadvertent environmental harm. Solar farms have been criticized for their impacts on desert tortoises, and wind farms have killed birds, including numerous raptors.
“We take this issue very seriously,” said Jeff Holland, a spokesman for NRG Solar of Carlsbad, California, the second of the three companies behind the plant. The third, Google, deferred comment to its partners.
More than 300,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door, reflect solar rays onto three boiler towers each looming up to 40 stories high. The water inside is heated to produce steam, which turns turbines that generate enough electricity for 140,000 homes.
Sun rays sent up by the field of mirrors are bright enough to dazzle pilots flying in and out of Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Green energy projects such as windmills and now solar energy must be
throwing environmentalists into some sort of cranial crack-up. On one
hand they want the renewable energy, but on the other they don’t want to
kill these poor and sometimes rare birds.
There is only one solution. The green energy folks should accept all the scientific
research demonstrating that global warming is not man made but part of the natural
climate patterns of the earth, and the latest warming trend which almost 18-years ago. That way they could take down the
windmills and solar panels and put them back in the lab until are
economically feasible and stop killing birds.