Concerns have been raised after federal wildlife investigators in the United States observed a solar-thermal plant immolating passing birds mid-flight. According to the Associated Press the workers at the 392MW plant have a nickname for the birds, ‘streamers’, given for the trail of smoke they leave as they plunge to the ground.
The Ivanpah solar facility, which is the largest in the world works by directing the suns at a tower containing water by focussing its rays using heliostatic mirrors. The concentrated energy of the thousands of mirrors in the Mojave desert is enough to boil the water which drives a turbine to generate electricity, much like a conventional power station.
Being caught in an area of concentrated beam convergence would presumably be enough to cause a bird to combust. The actual number of birds killed this way is hotly disputed, with thermal plant operator NRG claiming a figure of 1,000 a year. Disputing that, federal inspectors reported seeing one ‘streamer’ every two minutes; the Centre for Biological Diversity estimates 28,000 deaths a year.
Many ‘Green’ projects that are designed to reduce the impact energy production on the environment seem to suffer from the law of unintended consequences. Although solar-thermal plants are designed to capture energy without releasing carbon, the intense heat and light which can be seen from the air both in Los Angeles and Las Vegas is a magnet to insects, who are in turn pursued by their bird predators.
As previously reported by Breitbart London, wind turbines also pose a significant hazard to birds that fly too close. When keen twitchers (bird-watchers) gathered to view an extremely rare White-throated needletail in 2013 they were horrified to see it killed by the blades of a wind-turbine. It was the first Needletail to be seen in the UK for 22 years. Turbines have also courted controversy in the United States for their seeming predisposition to cut up Bald Eagles, the national animal.
Despite solar-thermal technology now being advanced enough to cook tens of thousands of birds a year in just one plant (and there are dozens more worldwide), architects still haven’t learnt the lesson of the power of the sun’s rays.
London’s own colossal parabolic focussing mirror, better known as the ‘Walkie Talkie’, now has to be covered with the world’s largest sun-shade to prevent it melting passing cars and nearby businesses.