The ‘death star’ green energy project that slaughters birds and insects

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This nice green energy project is cooking birds and insects at alarming rates…and now it is under investigation.

The Ivanpah solar thermal power plant in the Southern California desert supplies enough carbon-free electricity to power 140,000 homes. For birds, bats and butterflies, though, the futuristic project is the Death Star, incinerating anything that flies through a “solar flux” field that generates temperatures of 800 degree Fahrenheit when 300,000 mirrors focus the sun on a water-filled boilers that sit on top three 459-foot towers.

“It appears Ivanpah may act as a ‘mega-trap,’ attracting insects which in turn attract insect-eating birds, which are incapacitated by solar-flux injury, thus attracting predators and creating an entire food chain vulnerable to injury and death,” concluded scientists with the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in a report that investigated 233 bird deaths representing 71 species at three Southern California solar power plants.

[…]   

[T]he scientists and members of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) saw first-hand those trade-offs when they visited Ivanpah, where mirrors called heliostats heat water to generate steam to drive an electricity-generating turbine. The intense light that surrounds the top of Ivanpah’s power towers attracts insects, including Monarch butterflies. Federal officials “observed large numbers of insect carcasses throughout the Ivanpah site,” according to the report. “Birds were also observed feeding on the insects. At times birds flew into the solar flux and ignited.”

Ivanpah employees called such immolations “streamers.”

When OLE staff visited Ivanpah, we observed many streamer events. It is claimed that these events represent the combustion of loose debris or insects. Although some of the events are likely that, there were instances where the amount of smoke produced by the ignition could only be explained by a large flammable biomass such as a bird. Indeed OLE observed birds entering the solar flux and igniting, consequently becoming a streamer.

The feds saw what appeared to be a bird go up in flames every two minutes, according to the report.  The birds killed at Ivanpah include a peregrine falcon, a red-shouldered hawk and an ash-throated flycatcher.

The report recommends among other things that NRG shut down the power plant during peak migration times for some bird species and install video cameras to monitor birds as they fly into the solar flux.


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