Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Solar plants are a menace to birds

Article'Streamers': California solar power plant scorches birds in mid-air

Article: Dead-Bird ‘Streamers’ at a California Solar Plant

Article: Emerging solar plants scorch birds in mid-air

Article: Migratory Bird Mortality: Many Human-Caused Threats Afflict our Bird Populations
California’s massive Ivanpah solar power plant can produce enough electricity for 140,000 households — but the environmental cost is nothing less than an avian slaughter.

The plant’s 350,000 mirrors bounce sizzling sunlight to the tops of three 40-story boiler towers, heating steam for turbine electricity generators. Temperatures near the towers can reach up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, heat certainly sufficient to fry a fowl.

“Workers at the state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — ‘steamers,’ for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair,” the Associated Press reports this week.

That’s a common occurrence, the AP continues; federal investigators saw a bird burn roughly every two minutes. Ivanpah owner BrightSource estimates that “about a thousand” die each year, and one environmental group says the plant kills up to 28,000 birds each year.

How many dead birds equal the damage caused by the CO2 emissions that these power plants replaced?

Please don't get me wrong. I think that the technology is cool. I think that, in the medium run, it is good to diversify our energy sources away from fossil fuels.

However, all sources of energy have their pros and cons.

Among the "cons" for this type of solar energy are scorched birds.

The dead birds are consequence of global warming activism. No activism, no push for alternatives to fossil fuels, no dead birds in ecologically sensitive areas. It is a trade-off.

But is it a worse trade-off than fossil fuels producing CO2? 

Another "con" are billion dollar loans to cronies of the Obama administration.
The commission is now considering the application from Oakland-based BrightSource to build a mirror field and a 75-story power tower that would reach above the sand dunes and creek washes between Joshua Tree National Park and the California-Arizona border.
The proposed plant is on a flight path for birds between the Colorado River and California's largest lake, the Salton Sea — an area, experts say, is richer in avian life than the Ivanpah plant, with protected golden eagles and peregrine falcons and more than 100 other species of birds recorded there.
The down side of wind turbines are also well known:  
Ivanpah isn’t the only green darling with a lot of bird blood on its hands, either. The American Bird Conservancy estimates wind turbines slay 440,000 birds each year, and the an analyst writing in the Wildlife Society Bulletin says it’s closer to 573,000 — in addition to 888,000 bats.
Again, a trade-off.

Again, how many dead birds and bats equal the damage caused by the CO2 these power plants replaced?

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