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Bird threats from renewables include solar zapping, wind turbine death

Wind energy farm
Wind energy farm

Environmentalists have been sounding the alarm on California’s $2.2 billion massive Ivanpah solar installation for months due to witnesses sightings of birds being zapped by the super-mirror's rays.

Ivanpah is located in the Mojave Desert, 45 miles southwest of Las Vegas.

Last year during an inspection, federal fish and wildlife investigators reported seeing birds get singed on the average of every two minutes, but estimates of avian casualties vary from 1,000 to 28,000 per year.

Smaller, traditional solar plants don’t produce super-heated rays, but The Associated Press reported each massive Ivanpah reflector is the size of a garage door, which shines sunlight back to towers that loom 40 stories high and “the water inside is heated to produce steam, which turns turbines that generate enough electricity for 140,000 homes.”

Ivanpah has 300,000 of the garage-sized mirrors that shine lethal, bird-frying rays onto three of the 40-story towers, with a second proposed solar plant being four times as dangerous to birds.

State officials are being asked to halt plans for a similar plant by BrightSource near the Joshua Tree National Park until more studies can be done.

The BrightSource design would incorporate a huge mirror field and a massive 75-story tower smack-dab in the middle of a rich avian population that includes protected golden eagles, peregrine falcons and up to 100 other bird species, according to a CBC News report.

Moreover, wind farms and different types of wind turbines that generate energy have been criticized by environmentalists for years, due to their share of unintended consequences that result in bird, raptor and bat fatalities.

Earlier this year the Obama administration imposed a first-ever $ 1 million fine for bird deaths against Duke Energy under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which has put much needed pressure on the wind power industry to reduce avian mortality.

In the search for sustainable and renewable energy sources, it is imperative, say environmentalists, to mitigate any lethal impact on bird and bat species that are already threatened by other man-made products like pesticides or human-induced climate change with its extreme weather and increased wildfires.

An answer to the BrightSource application is expected later this fall.

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