According to the stories reported by workers at the facility, the state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert is the envy of the best snipers. California's BrightSource Energy plant kills a bird every two minutes from its intensely focused rays of light, USA Today reported on Aug. 19. Employees at the plant have renamed the burning birds in the sky "streamers," because they emit streaks of smoke in the blue sky over the giant solar power plant.
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System uses more than 300,000 mirrors the size of garage doors to focus the sun's power toward "power towers" as many as 40 stories tall, and can power as many as 140,000 homes, according to the report. The birds igniting in California is a situation in which the environmental services of the state want to stop, even in view of the need to revise the rules if necessary for the approval of solar thermal power plants, as several projects (even more impressive than that of Ivanpah) are currently on stand by waiting for the green light.
Federal wildlife investigators must now analyze the phenomenon more precisely in order to understand if the slaughter of the birds, which is as many as 28,000 birds a year according to estimates, is mainly due to the location or the technology.
"The deaths are alarming. It's hard to say whether that's the location or the technology," said Garry George, renewable-energy director for the California chapter of the Audubon Society. "There needs to be some caution," he added.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is urging the state to hold off on permitting another plant which will be located between the Colorado River and California's largest lake, the Salton Sea. According to the California Energy Commission, the new park will be four times more lethal to birds than the existing Ivanpah plant.