Another Green Bird-Killer
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the world's largest "tower-based" solar plant, is scheduled to open this week in the Mojave Desert. According to Brightsource, one of the project's investors, the plant covers 3,500 acres (five square miles) with "over 300,000 software-controlled mirrors [that] track the sun in three dimensions and reflect the sunlight to boilers that sit atop three 459 foot tall towers." The Wall Street Journal puts the exact figure at 347,000 "garage door-size mirrors."
Ivanpah cost $2.2 billion, but investors have few worries; it was financed with a federal loan guarantee of $1.6 billion, and Californians are required under Renewable Portfolio Standards to purchase Ivanpah's electricity for the next 30 years, at four times the cost of electricity generated with natural gas.
When the plant was under construction, I responded to President Obama's effusive praise for Ivanpah in "Obama's Costly Green Jobs Project" (American Thinker, October 4, 2010), pointing out a number of the project's negative aspects: the high cost, low capacity factor, limited employment generated after the construction phase, intermittency of supply requiring back-up generation, inflated projections, etc. The Wall Street Journal adds another issue that has come to light now that the plant is operating: it's a bird-killer (The $2.2 Billion Bird-Scorching Solar Project).
Birds seem to be attracted to the array, thinking that the shimmering mirrors are a body of water. It turns out that when those 347,000 mirrors focus sunlight up to the 459-foot high towers, the surrounding air gets warmed up a bit -- to a toasty 1,000 degrees F, hot enough to fry our feathered friends to a crisp.
Elsewhere in California, Audubon reports on that other bird-murdering technology, what James Delingpole likes to call "bat-chomping, bird-slicing eco crucifixes":
Every year, an estimated 75 to 110 Golden Eagles are killed by the wind turbines in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA). Some lose their wings, others are decapitated, and still others are cut in half. The lethal turbines, numbering roughly 6,000, are arrayed across 50,000 acres of rolling hills in northeastern Alameda and southeastern Contra Costa counties.
I'm sure that environmentalists (like Audubon) care about birds, but the crusade to save the Earth from global warming with green energy takes precedence over a few dead birds. As Stalin said, you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, or in this case, roasting a few eagles.
Image via Flickr