In what’s turning into a public relations headache for the solar industry, news has emerged that a recent test of the 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in Nevada resulted in some 130 birds catching fire, when they flew into an area of highly concentrated solar energy.
As KCET’s Rewire is reporting, the incident happened last month, but the news is only emerging now. According to Rudy Evenson, Deputy Chief of Communications for Nevada Bureau of Land Management in Reno, the birds were likely drawn to a glow created by the concentrated solar energy above the project’s sole tower.
As noted by E&E reporter Phil Taylor, plants like this one are a huge problem for birds. He describes the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a similar but larger plant in California’s Mojave Desert:
The 45-story “power towers” shine with sunlight reflected by 350,000 heliostat mirrors spread across an area four times the size of New York’s Central Park. Receivers atop the towers heat to nearly 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, boiling water to turn turbines that crank out 392 megawatts — power for more than 100,000 houses.
Okay, seems pretty bad. But wait, there’s more, um information that is. Turns out this is a trivial addition to human caused bird carnage. Well humans as in big tall buildings and then of course our furry overlords. Our cats kill a billion birds without generating any electricity at all. Mee-owch!
However cats are not covered by the migratory bird treaty.
So what happens to birds whose nesting areas become coal mines? Or oil fields? Or if we just make sure the homes energized with this electricity have no cats or tall buildings we get a net gain in the bird safety game. OTOH we do now have the planets biggest bug zapper.