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Green energy: Solar farm cooks birds in mid-flight

Scorched bird.
Scorched bird.
Wikimedia-Commons

Despite the claim of so-called green energy being environmentally-friendly, the world's largest solar energy farm is actually burning our feathered friends unlucky enough to wing overhead, as reported by The Independent of London, UK on Feb. 16, 2014, and Fox News on Feb. 15, 2014.

Hundreds of thousands of mirrors comprise the five square miles worth of Mojave Desert that is the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System located just on the Nevada side of the Nevada-California state line.

After years of jumping though legal and regulatory loopholes ranging from the relocation of desert tortoises to formally assessing the impact of the solar farm on desert plants, the $2.2 billion green energy showcase finally opened for business late last week, much to the chagrin of more than a few environmentalists.

Time for the bad pun ...

Without even making it to the end of the weekend, Ivanpah is already taking heat for damaging the environment.

With the power plant's quarter of a million garage-door sized mirrors using the sun's power, the mirrors are aimed at 459-foot water towers to produce steam power, which in turn drives the turbines which produce upwards of 400 megawatts — enough power for 140,000 homes.

With lead having a melting point of 621.5 °F, avian advocates are accusing Ivanpah's 350,000 mirrors of creating a 1,000 °F "thermal flux" aimed at the water towers, effectively roasting birds in mid-air.

BrightSource Energy, one of the three owners is the solar farm, has reported "finding dozens of dead birds at the plant over the past several months, with some having singed or burned feathers, according to federal biologists and documents filed with the California Energy Commission."

In keeping with typical state and federal regulators overseeing the complaints, a two-year study of the Ivanpah plant's effects on birds is underway.