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posted by LaminatorX on Thursday August 21 2014, @10:40AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Archemedes-Mirror dept.

AP reports that wildlife investigators who watched as birds burn and fell at the Ivanpah Dry Lake Solar Tower Plant are urging California officials to halt the operator's application to build a still-bigger version until the full extent of the deaths can be assessed. Estimates per year now range from a low of about a thousand "streamers" by the plant operator to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group. Those statistics haven’t curbed the enthusiasm of the Obama administration for the solar-power plant, which granted Ivanpah a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee. The deaths are "alarming. It's hard to say whether that's the location or the technology," says Garry George, renewable-energy director for the California chapter of the Audubon Society. "There needs to be some caution." Federal wildlife officials say the plant might act as a "mega-trap" for wildlife, with the bright light of the plant attracting insects, which in turn attract insect-eating birds that fly to their death in the intensely focused light rays.

The $2.2 billion plant at Ivanpah Dry Lake near the California-Nevada border is the world's biggest plant to employ so-called power towers. More than 300,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door, reflect solar rays onto three boiler towers each looming up to 40 stories high. The water inside is heated to produce steam, which turns turbines that generate enough electricity for 140,000 homes. While biologists say there is no known feasible way to curb the number of birds killed, the companies behind the projects say they are hoping to find one — studying whether lights, sounds or some other technology would scare them away, says Joseph Desmond, senior vice president at BrightSource Energy. Power-tower proponents are fighting to keep the deaths from forcing a pause in the building of new plants when they see the technology on the verge of becoming more affordable and accessible (PDF). When it comes to powering the country's grids, "diversity of technology ... is critical," says Thomas Conroy, a renewable-energy expert. "Nobody should be arguing let's be all coal, all solar," all wind, or all nuclear. "And every one of those technologies has a long list of pros and cons."

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  • (Score: 0, Troll) by rfree on Thursday August 21 2014, @11:39AM

    by rfree (4618) on Thursday August 21 2014, @11:39AM (#83882)

    Heh it seems some of the crazy greens are so "ecological" that they fight even ecological technology (solar power), lol...

    You know I feel for the birds too, but I would still allow people to use candels (oh no poor moths) or camp fires, or use cars while we have poor insects on windshield.

    It would be nicer if we could make it easier for birds, but let's not ruin people lives who actually need that power plant.

    And "mega trap", heh how sensational.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Vanderhoth on Thursday August 21 2014, @11:50AM

      by Vanderhoth (61) on Thursday August 21 2014, @11:50AM (#83885)

      Actually my impression of the people fighting this solar plant is they're ultra right wing anti-environment people. They want to kill the technology and are making a mountain out of a mole hill to have the plant dismantled before anyone can even look into what's causing the issue and how it can be resolved. Same story was on the CBC last week and the comments people were leaving defied all logic. Found the story I was looking for earlier BrightSource solar plant sets birds on fire as they fly overhead [www.cbc.ca]

      A few choice comments I found particularly funny and a little ironic.

      These must the birds that managed to fly past the windmills. What a travesty of hypocritical corruption is the alternate energy industry. These birds are God's creatures too. - lostin thecrowd

      This is too funny. You kill a couple of dozen birds or fish with an oil spill and the whole bloody enviro idiots are up in arms, you fry a bird every two minutes and silence. Even compare it to say the seal hunt off Newfoundland or big game hunting. What hypocrisy. - Most Flagged Comments

      And the tree huggers again cause more problems than they solve... Typical. - TruDope

      The Green Puritans are going to save the planet by using their fancy new death ray on all the birds!
      Yeee-Hawww!

      God, you couldn't make this stuff up! - Liberals In The Slammer

      --
      "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
      • (Score: 1) by rfree on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:38PM

        by rfree (4618) on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:38PM (#83928)

        Btw, There is no left or right wing actually, it's an oversimplification used by powerful in political systems where idiots rule (e.g. in democracy) to trick voters.

        You can have economical freedom "every man works for himself" or not "you all, you go to work and feed the poor and me!".
        You can have questions of moral freedom in various aspects.
        And other topics come up.

        They are different issues usually.

        Maybe your theory that this is a movement to stop the oil/coal-fobs is correct. That is quite funny then.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Vanderhoth on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:14PM

          by Vanderhoth (61) on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:14PM (#83943)

          Not that I'm disagreeing with the sentiment. It definitely is an oversimplification and people can be both left and right leaning on different issues, but left and right politics are a thing and it's been around for a long time. Adding "wing" just indicates the left or right stance is to the extreme. I'm definitely a moderate or centrist, with a slight left leaning, but those with a "left wing" stance see me as extreme right and can't register people more right than I am. Both sides, in the extreme, are idiots and definitely play up the us vs. them for those of us that could really go either way at the polls. Knowing that is what their doing is important to keep yourself from blindly taking one side or the other. If you pretend it doesn't exist you're leaving yourself open for manipulation.

          From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

          The left-right political spectrum is a system of classifying political positions, ideologies and parties. Left-wing politics and right-wing politics are often presented as opposed, although a particular individual or group may take a left-wing stance on one matter and a right-wing stance on another. In France, where the terms originated, the Left has been called "the party of movement" and the Right "the party of order."[1][2][3][4] The intermediate stance is called centrism and a person with such a position is a moderate.

          --
          "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
        • (Score: 4, Interesting) by BasilBrush on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:31PM

          by BasilBrush (3994) on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:31PM (#83950)

          There is no left or right wing actually, it's an oversimplification used by powerful in political systems where idiots rule (e.g. in democracy) to trick voters.

          Of course there's a left and right wing. Ever since the term appeared in 18th century France, where the people of the two ends of the spectrum sat in the left and right wings of the house. People who watch Fox News for anything more than shits and giggles and actually agree with it are most certainly right wingers. And those that identify themselves as socialists are certainly left wing.

          Left/right is most certainly one of the axis on which political opinion is identifiably arranged. The other most common one being libertarian/authoritarian.

          This FUD is much the same as the "Wind Turbines cause too many bird deaths" FUD, and mostly comes from right wingers, that simply hate environmentalism on the basis that they associate it with left wing ideas. They may self identify as "conservationists", but never as environmentalists.

          --
          Hurrah! Quoting works now!
          • (Score: 0, Troll) by rfree on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:17PM

            by rfree (4618) on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:17PM (#83965)

            While of course many issues can have opposite sides, they should be called like side 1 and 2 or A and B.

            What does left mean? It's not decided (globally).

            For example:
            leftists - is what many people call the lazy people who want to rip income tax out working middle class as "YOU go work so that we call can feed the poor".

            an opposite view is for example agorism, which says that what you earn is yours and you should pay others only if you both voluntary agreed, and rather not be forced to be king/majority/who-ever. and yet that opposite view is also called LEFT by many.

            On the other hand right is often used to mean paying taxes, supporting gov and gov enforcement of various restrictions.
            And yet RIGHT can also mean party (like KNP in Poland) that fights taxes (especially on income) and over-blown beurocracy and instead proposes economical freedom and free trade with minimal regulation.

            So the words "left" and "right" have no clear meaning.

            If you say "right" above it was mean as demonizing
            - oh no you do not care about mother earth
            - oh no you want to kill all the black people or something
            - oh no are you from the government
            - oh no do you want police to with force kick butt of all eco guys?

            while to me it means many other things in some contexts.

            Therefore this L/R words are quite useless.

            • (Score: 2) by ragequit on Thursday August 21 2014, @07:27PM

              by ragequit (44) on Thursday August 21 2014, @07:27PM (#84060) Journal

              My kingdom for mod points!

              --
              The above views are fabricated for your reading pleasure.
      • (Score: 2) by khallow on Thursday August 21 2014, @10:37PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 21 2014, @10:37PM (#84131) Journal

        Actually my impression of the people fighting this solar plant is they're ultra right wing anti-environment people.

        We don't have to speculate on the basis of comments to a news story. We can read the story and find that the opposition to the project on this basis comes from "federal wildlife investigators" and the Center for Biological Diversity (take a glance at the staff [biologicaldiversity.org], does that look like ultra-right wing anti-environment people to you?).

        And of course, only ultra-right wing anti-environment people would oppose a project like this on the basis that it kills a bunch of birds.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:02PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:02PM (#83909)

      Wow, you sound real classy. You say you care for the birds but it's obvious their lives are next to worthless to you. Just because a creature is of a different species or of lesser intelligence and can't speak up for itself you feel it's just fine to mock those who defend it and to let it die in the thousands because of a thoughtless design. Do you realise that sort of attitude is not a whole lot different from racism?

      You're right to highlight the conflicting goals of greens - but having conflicting goals doesn't make you crazy. It just means things need to be given some careful thought to work around the difficulties.

      • (Score: 1) by rfree on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:40PM

        by rfree (4618) on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:40PM (#83930)

        I take it you never ate roasted chicken or a hamburger, you are strict vegetarian?

        • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:57PM

          by acid andy (1683) on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:57PM (#83934) Homepage Journal

          No, but every time I eat meat I feel guilty, so that makes it OK.
          I'm kidding - yup, strict vegetarian.

          --
          Where did that thought come from? And that one? What about this one? Woah, man...
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:25PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:25PM (#83948)

            You don't use any medicines though, right?

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:38PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:38PM (#84003)

              Just LSD!

              • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Thursday August 21 2014, @05:36PM

                by acid andy (1683) on Thursday August 21 2014, @05:36PM (#84021) Homepage Journal

                lol good one!

                --
                Where did that thought come from? And that one? What about this one? Woah, man...
    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:05PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:05PM (#83911)

      Right cause building a 75 story solar tower right smack in the middle of a bird migration path,
      when the comparable 40 story building not on a bird migration path is supposedly frying a bird every couple of minutes is the obviously green thing to do

      not every thing sold as green is actually green.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:15PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:15PM (#83918)

        Plus, it causes nationwide shortages of dippin' sauce.

      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by BasilBrush on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:37PM

        by BasilBrush (3994) on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:37PM (#83951)

        when the comparable 40 story building not on a bird migration path is supposedly frying a bird every couple of minutes

        "Supposedly" being the operative word. The supposedly call these events "streamers" for the visual effect produced. Which makes it more than a little strange that there is no video footage of it happening. A 6 minute youtube video ought to be able to show us 3 of these events. And yet there's not even a video with a single such event happening.

        Another clue that this is pure FUD is The Atlantic article linked doesn't stop at birds, but claims it threatens bats as well. Which would be quite difficult given that bats go out hunting for insects at night.

        --
        Hurrah! Quoting works now!
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:35PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:35PM (#84001)

          Which makes it more than a little strange that there is no video footage of it happening.

          You are assuming that the plant owners would permit that footage to get out. A cynic would expect that that the federal wildlife investigators are contractually forbidden from releasing any videos filmed on the property.

          but claims it threatens bats as well. Which would be quite difficult given that bats go out hunting for insects at night.

          It is more of an exaggeration, googling reveals that they find 5-10 dead bats each month there. Bats don't wait until it is 100% dark to come out, given the scale of the plant, even 5% of its peak reflected energy could be dangerous if they are close to the focal point.

          • (Score: 2) by tathra on Thursday August 21 2014, @06:39PM

            by tathra (3367) on Thursday August 21 2014, @06:39PM (#84034)

            You are assuming that the plant owners would permit that footage to get out.

            it doesn't matter. if it was really happening and people were honestly outraged at it (as opposed to standard FUD which just requires getting idiots to act on your behalf) they'd go out of their way to get a video of it happening out in the public, if for no other reason than "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" (and i assure you, "its lighting all the birds on fire!" is an extraordinary claim).

          • (Score: 2) by M. Baranczak on Thursday August 21 2014, @07:28PM

            by M. Baranczak (1673) on Thursday August 21 2014, @07:28PM (#84061)

            It is more of an exaggeration, googling reveals that they find 5-10 dead bats each month there.

            A meaningless statistic. How many dead bats per month were they finding before the generator was built?

            Bats don't wait until it is 100% dark to come out, given the scale of the plant, even 5% of its peak reflected energy could be dangerous if they are close to the focal point.

            I don't know about the bats in that area, but here, they don't come out until well after the sun goes down. At that point, there's still light, but it's not coming from a single source, so the solar array wouldn't work. (As a matter of fact, these types of arrays don't work when it's cloudy, either.)

            Bats do come out in the daytime when they're rabid, though.

        • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Thursday August 21 2014, @09:07PM

          by evilviper (1760) on Thursday August 21 2014, @09:07PM (#84101) Homepage Journal

          Which makes it more than a little strange that there is no video footage of it happening. A 6 minute youtube video ought to be able to show us 3 of these events.

          What are you, 12? The world existed before YouTube. The US government doesn't operate on the America's Funniest Home Videos-model.

          How exactly do these "Federal wildlife investigators" who reported this phenomenon, fit into your crazy conspiracy theory? Are they all getting money under the table from the Koch brothers?

          claims it threatens bats as well. Which would be quite difficult given that bats go out hunting for insects at night.

          Bats go out around dusk... Some earlier than others. They don't all wait until the sun sets and flood out. There's still sunlight around dusk, and with thousands of concentrating mirrors, probably still hot enough to kill unlucky animals.

          --
          Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
          • (Score: 2) by BasilBrush on Friday August 22 2014, @09:42PM

            by BasilBrush (3994) on Friday August 22 2014, @09:42PM (#84493)

            What are you, 12?

            I'm most probably a lot older than you are. I wish I was still young, but I'm not.

            The world existed before YouTube.

            But Ivanpah Solar Power Facility didn't. So the creation date of YouTube is irrelevant.

            The US government doesn't operate on the America's Funniest Home Videos-model.

            We're not the US Government. We're soylentnews commenters. And YouTube would be reasonable evidence here for the events that are claimed.

            How exactly do these "Federal wildlife investigators" who reported this phenomenon, fit into your crazy conspiracy theory?

            There's a world of difference between what "Federal wildlife investigators" say, and what is written in The Atlantic. Go to the original document, purporting to be from the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory, and you'll find that all witnessed were a number of dead birds at 3 solar sites. The didn't see a single bird actually fry, let alone one every 2 minutes. The carcasses amounted to 233, over 3 sites. With no way to tell over what period the birds died. They are clear about how little they know, and recommend...

            wait for it...

            video monitoring. Perhaps you should tell them that YouTube wasn't invented...

            Also turns out the bat issue is not your ridiculous theory about dusk light being enough to fry them, but that some bats try roosting in the condenser building - cause of death unstated, but perhaps it gets a bit steamy in there. Or perhaps they just collected the naturally dead corpses that you would find on the floor of any bat roost. In either case an issue that could be completely eliminated with chicken wire over access points.

            --
            Hurrah! Quoting works now!
            • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Saturday August 23 2014, @11:31PM

              by evilviper (1760) on Saturday August 23 2014, @11:31PM (#84779) Homepage Journal

              I like how you apparently read the report, yet conveniently left out the purtinent details that don't happen to agree with your skepticism.

              "Solar flux injury was identified as the cause of death in 47/141 birds", and just as many were in too poor of shape to be identified. That's with only minimal attempts to recover carcasses, and solar flux was only active during HALF of the observation period, making the stats excessively weighted towards other causes of death that were occurring while still under construction.

              So even without YouTube, we've established that a large and inordinate number of birds are being killed by solar flux at Ivanpah, multiples of the numbers by other conventional causes.

              --
              Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
              • (Score: 2) by BasilBrush on Sunday August 24 2014, @12:11AM

                by BasilBrush (3994) on Sunday August 24 2014, @12:11AM (#84794)

                So even without YouTube, we've established that a large and inordinate number of birds are being killed by solar flux at Ivanpah, multiples of the numbers by other conventional causes.

                No you haven't established that at all. You don't have a figure for numbers by "other conventional causes", nor even the length of time that those corpses had been on site. And "large and inordinate" is nothing more than opinion.

                Birds, like every other living thing, die. They have a limited life span. This is just one cause, of countless human causes, and even more natural ones. Flying into building window panes and being hit by traffic being two major anthropogenic ones. There is precisely nothing in the document to show that the numbers from this solar plant are large or inordinate.

                --
                Hurrah! Quoting works now!
                • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Sunday August 24 2014, @02:43AM

                  by evilviper (1760) on Sunday August 24 2014, @02:43AM (#84837) Homepage Journal

                  Yes don't have a figure for numbers by "other conventional causes"

                  Yes, I do. The cause of death is broken-down in the report.

                  nor even the length of time that those corpses had been on site

                  It was an active ecosystem. Scavengers were quite active. In addition, they made regular sweeps over a year and a half, not just one appearance, as you seem to want to think, so they have a very good time-frame on how long those corpses would have been there.

                  There is precisely nothing in the document to show that the numbers from this solar plant are large or inordinate.

                  The breakdown by cause of death shows that. The number of deaths at the two other sites where solar flux was a non-issue show that as well.

                  You are clinging quite firmly to your willful ignorance.

                  --
                  Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
                  • (Score: 2) by BasilBrush on Monday August 25 2014, @08:02PM

                    by BasilBrush (3994) on Monday August 25 2014, @08:02PM (#85441)

                    From the report: "It should be emphasised that we currently have very incomplete knowledge of the scope of avian mortality at these solar sites."

                    Wilful ignorance is thinking you know that which you don't.

                    --
                    Hurrah! Quoting works now!
                    • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Monday August 25 2014, @09:14PM

                      by evilviper (1760) on Monday August 25 2014, @09:14PM (#85463) Homepage Journal

                      This coming from the guy who is convinced that birds are dying of natural cause in mid-air while they happen to be flying over Ivanpah.

                      --
                      Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:09PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:09PM (#83940)

      These "environmentalists" are actually an astroturfing effort funded by the oil / coal / natural gas industry. They've used precisely the same objection to delay wind farm projects, even though both wind farms and this solar farm kill far fewer birds than, for example, skyscrapers with large reflective windows (because birds think that's more sky and slam right into 'em).

      More to the point, bird populations are harmed far more by habitat destruction than anything else humans are doing. A typical mating pair will have 4-5 young, and that means that if half of 'em die by building or raccoon or cat or airplane or the gazillions of other causes of avian death, the population is completely stable. Where there's real trouble is where the mating pair doesn't have the resources to nest, and therefor has no young.

      And in general, birds are doing just fine. For example, bald eagles [fws.gov] have gone from being endangered to somewhere around 10,000 breeding pairs of wild birds.

      --
      The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
      • (Score: 2, Informative) by Joe Desertrat on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:23PM

        by Joe Desertrat (2454) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:23PM (#83997)

        And in general, birds are doing just fine. For example, bald eagles have gone from being endangered to somewhere around 10,000 breeding pairs of wild birds.

        Bird populations in general are NOT doing fine. There may have been success bringing the bald eagle back from the threat of extinction, but many other bird populations are in serious decline. Do a quick Google search for "us bird populations in decline" and read up.

        • (Score: 3, Funny) by nukkel on Thursday August 21 2014, @07:55PM

          by nukkel (168) on Thursday August 21 2014, @07:55PM (#84065)

          The American bald eagle died along with the Constitution, I suppose.

      • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Thursday August 21 2014, @10:38PM

        by mhajicek (51) on Thursday August 21 2014, @10:38PM (#84132)

        I propose we shut down the highway system until an extensive study can be performed on the impact on the squirrel population.

        • (Score: 1) by Freeman on Friday August 22 2014, @12:25AM

          by Freeman (732) on Friday August 22 2014, @12:25AM (#84157) Journal

          Do that and the squirrels will take over the world. ;-)

          --
          "I said in my haste, All men are liars." Psalm 116:11
      • (Score: 2) by khallow on Thursday August 21 2014, @10:44PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 21 2014, @10:44PM (#84134) Journal

        They got MoveOn fooled [moveon.org]. Link is to a MoveOn advertisement for an anti-petroleum rally sponsored by a bunch of organizations including the Center for Biological Diversity which is in the story the main private-side opposition to the solar plant.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:23PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:23PM (#83946)

      i agree but i'm pretty sure we can find a way to prevent most birds from flying into the 'death rays'. maybe some scarecrows and a few fake predator birds, etc. i'm certain there are cheap ways to do this.

      • (Score: 1) by rfree on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:46PM

        by rfree (4618) on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:46PM (#83983)

        If we can do it a bit better for local env (and if people LIVING THERE want that) then sure, let's do it.

        If it's a huge cost and/or a tool to extract bribes (on company, corporation or state level) or if it would destroy industry and make people much poorer etc, then nope (unless it's actually a total and obvious disaster).

        Applies to this case, and to all eco cases.

      • (Score: 1) by wantkitteh on Thursday August 21 2014, @10:29PM

        by wantkitteh (3362) on Thursday August 21 2014, @10:29PM (#84129) Homepage Journal

        Airports in the UK use Falconry to keep the majority of birds away from the danger areas. Fly birds of prey around at just the right times when the plane activity is low, all the other birds keep the fuck away. Problem solved. And that's when there's human lives at risk and it's dirt cheap.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:14PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:14PM (#83994)

      let's not ruin people lives who actually need that power plant.

      And "mega trap", heh how sensational.

      "Ruin people's lives," heh how sensational.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Vanderhoth on Thursday August 21 2014, @11:40AM

    by Vanderhoth (61) on Thursday August 21 2014, @11:40AM (#83883)

    Just to put that in perspective 28,000 still doesn't come close to the number of birds killed by other things like cats (200,000,000 per year), flying into power lines and electrocutions (25,000,000 per year) and collisions with houses and bridges (25,000,000 per year) and that's just in Canada. A Synthesis of Human-Related Avian Mortality in Canada [documentcloud.org]

    The CBC was carrying a similar story last week, I couldn't find it this morning, and it was amazing the number of ultra-anti-environmental crowd commenting on how this plant needs to be ripped down immediately no questions asked because of how harmful it is and how the tar-sands are so much more environmentally friendly. Completely ignoring the fact that thousands of birds a year are killed when they land in the trailing ponds that contain mercury, arsenic and other heavy metals. Oh, but they put scarecrows up and fire cannons to keep the birds off the ponds... (see Protecting water and waterfowl [oilsandstoday.ca])

    --
    "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by geb on Thursday August 21 2014, @11:56AM

      by geb (529) on Thursday August 21 2014, @11:56AM (#83890)

      Comparing "just" Canada to a single powerplant is a bit disingenuous. If the technology became widely adopted on the scale of an entire nation, the number of bird deaths would rise.

      However, I'm optimistic that a technical fix can be found. There's no fundamental reason why scaring birds away has to be expensive in either energy or money.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Vanderhoth on Thursday August 21 2014, @12:14PM

        by Vanderhoth (61) on Thursday August 21 2014, @12:14PM (#83895)

        Problem is the anti-environment crowd is holding this technology to a higher standard than traditional power generation technologies. The best I can compare it to is people talk about how bad it would be to put hydrogen in cars and the kinds of safety regulations that should be involved because of how volatile it is, well if people had the same concerns with gas in cars and expected the same safety regulations they expect from hydrogen we most likely would still be using the horse and buggy.

        The problem is opponents of the technology are using 28,000, which is the upper bounds on the estimate, as if it's a huge number and don't want a solution to be found. They want to shut the plant down and have it dismantled before anyone can even look into the problem. A solution could be as simple as just blasting a fog horn every now and then to scare birds out of the area. As this technology grows, maybe bird deaths will rise, but deaths from other more harmful power technologies will decline.

        28,000 isn't even on the radar when you consider how many animals, not just birds, have been killed by oil spills, and pollution from coal plants, heck they're still cleaning up after, and animals are still dying from, the Gulf of Mexico spill four years ago.

        --
        "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
        • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Thursday August 21 2014, @06:57PM

          by HiThere (866) on Thursday August 21 2014, @06:57PM (#84044) Journal

          Actually, I *am* rather dubious about putting hydrogen in cars, for the same reason that I'm dubious about helium balloons. Both are non-replenishable resources that involve gases that are not bound to the earth by gravity. It's true that we have a lot more hydrogen than helium, so it's not as imminent a problem, but it's also true that hydrogen (water, carbohydrates, etc.) is more important to life.

          It's also true that the hydrogen problem is rather long term, and that by design hydrogen releases won't be intentional. It still bothers me.

          --
          Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
          • (Score: 2) by Vanderhoth on Thursday August 21 2014, @07:17PM

            by Vanderhoth (61) on Thursday August 21 2014, @07:17PM (#84055)

            ... I don't really know how to respond to that ...

            Hydrogen readily bonds with oxygen to make water, it happens in nature all the time. They use that recombining process to generate power in Hydrogen fuel cells. It doesn't get lost it just gets converted back to water, and what does escape bonds naturally with oxygen to make water. Law of Conservation of matter.

            Helium is a stable element that doesn't readily bond with other elements. The problem with Helium is once it's mixed in with the other gasses in the atmosphere, it's hard to separate it out because it makes up such a tiny fraction of all the other elements in the air.

            Gasses don't just escape into space. They're still held in the atmosphere, they just float up until they sit on the less buoyant gasses, but they're still head down by gravity.

            --
            "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
            • (Score: 4, Informative) by evilviper on Thursday August 21 2014, @08:57PM

              by evilviper (1760) on Thursday August 21 2014, @08:57PM (#84099) Homepage Journal

              Gasses don't just escape into space.

              Yes, helium does.

              "Helium is a finite resource and is one of the few elements with escape velocity, meaning that once released into the atmosphere, it escapes into space."

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium [wikipedia.org]

              --
              Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
              • (Score: 2) by Vanderhoth on Thursday August 21 2014, @09:49PM

                by Vanderhoth (61) on Thursday August 21 2014, @09:49PM (#84115)

                I guess I stand corrected.

                --
                "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
              • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Friday August 22 2014, @06:49PM

                by HiThere (866) on Friday August 22 2014, @06:49PM (#84437) Journal

                So does hydrogen. The H2 molecule travels at above escape velocity. IIUC so does O, but not O2. One reason that ozone in the upper atmosphere is undesirable is that solar UV can knock an O loose from O3, and that fragment will be above escape velocity. OTOH, even O is considerably heavier than H2, so it needs to be at a much higher "temperature" to break loose...but it gets that from the solar UV.

                N.B.: This happens over geologic time scales, so even though it's quite important (in my evaluation) it's not urgent. Still, short-range solutions that ignore this problem bother me.

                --
                Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
                • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Friday August 22 2014, @07:22PM

                  by evilviper (1760) on Friday August 22 2014, @07:22PM (#84449) Homepage Journal

                  The H2 molecule travels at above escape velocity

                  Yes, but it's not noble like helium, so it's vastly more likely to react/bond with another molecule (like O) on its way up from ground level.

                  One reason that ozone in the upper atmosphere is undesirable is that solar UV can knock an O loose from O3, and that fragment will be above escape velocity.

                  Oxygen isn't a scarce resource, like helium. I don't see how the loss of a little bit is a serious problem.

                  --
                  Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
                  • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Saturday August 23 2014, @03:25PM

                    by HiThere (866) on Saturday August 23 2014, @03:25PM (#84679) Journal

                    Over geologic time a planet can lose it's atmosphere...or at least the lighter parts. To me that's serious. I'll grant you there won't be any measurable effect in the next century or so, but over time little changes add up.

                    --
                    Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
                    • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Saturday August 23 2014, @07:12PM

                      by evilviper (1760) on Saturday August 23 2014, @07:12PM (#84735) Homepage Journal

                      3 billion years from now, I'm sure that would matter, if not for the fact the sun will have wiped-out all life on earth a billion years before that.

                      --
                      Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
                      • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Sunday August 24 2014, @07:12PM

                        by HiThere (866) on Sunday August 24 2014, @07:12PM (#85030) Journal

                        That might be a significant point. I'd need to run the math. But remember with departing hydrogen the amount of water available will shrink, and carbohydrates will become more difficult to make. I'd expect it to become a significant problem long before half of it was lost. It is, however, clearly not a short-term problem. It's just that short term action impact the long term scenario.

                        --
                        Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
          • (Score: 2) by khallow on Thursday August 21 2014, @11:10PM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 21 2014, @11:10PM (#84139) Journal

            If we do run low on hydrogen, we can always stock up from one of the huge sources of hydrogen in the Solar System.

            • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Friday August 22 2014, @06:51PM

              by HiThere (866) on Friday August 22 2014, @06:51PM (#84440) Journal

              Have you even tried to figure the cost of that? Or to make a ballpark estimate?

              Sure, it's true that Jupiter has more hydrogen than we could ever use...but getting it from there to here is a bit expensive, even if all you're counting is energy.

              --
              Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
              • (Score: 2) by khallow on Friday August 22 2014, @08:38PM

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 22 2014, @08:38PM (#84469) Journal

                Cost doesn't make sense until you know what infrastructure will be around at the time to move that hydrogen around. For example, it wouldn't take much of the Sun's energy output to double the Earth's current water content. So if you have a Dyson cloud tapping the entire output of the Sun, that's going to make a rehydrogenization of the Earth near trivial in comparison. If on the other hand, you have everyone sitting on Earth with the occasional probe flying around, then any such scheme will be impossible to implement.

                • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Saturday August 23 2014, @03:29PM

                  by HiThere (866) on Saturday August 23 2014, @03:29PM (#84682) Journal

                  If you have a Dyson cloud tapping the sun, you won't be very interested in the planets...in fact, you'll probably have disassembled them to get the material to make the sphere. Until that looks reasonable, I'm going to consider that hydrogen should be conserved...and probably by then I'd be more concerned, because once something has dissipated into the solar environs, recollecting it is much more difficult, even if it doesn't have enough velocity to escape the solar system.

                  --
                  Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
                  • (Score: 2) by khallow on Saturday August 23 2014, @04:06PM

                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 23 2014, @04:06PM (#84690) Journal

                    Until that looks reasonable, I'm going to consider that hydrogen should be conserved...

                    You might as well consider it reasonable as worry about conserving hydrogen. We're as a industrial civilization probably a few more orders of magnitude closer to intercepting all sunlight than we are to lose, say half, of the Earth's hydrogen to space.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:10PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:10PM (#83914)

      I'd love to build a solar accumulator that also incinerated outdoor cats. WTF are the pet owners thinking?

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Vanderhoth on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:26PM

        by Vanderhoth (61) on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:26PM (#83921)

        WTF are the pet owners thinking?

        I honestly don't know. I have cats, but they're indoor pets. Cats are a huge problem in cities, not just because of the wildlife they kill. People need to neuter their pets and/or keep them inside.

        On the other hand, I work near a dockyard, one year they (the city) deiced to capture and euthanize the strays around here and our rat population jumped through he roof. Now we capture, neuter and release cats because they're really the only thing keeping the rats, and I don't mean politicians, from taking over the city... Now if only we could reduce the politician population...

        --
        "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
        • (Score: 1) by zugedneb on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:11PM

          by zugedneb (4556) on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:11PM (#83963)

          Until age of 13 i was living in Romania... I remember, there were clouds of sparrows and pigeons...
          but also there were insects... many many insects... Also many stray cats and dogs.
          The place was dirty, the grass uncut, the bushes and trees grew wild as the lord made them, and debry everywhere...

          Now, i have lived in sweden for 25 years, and here is the thing:
          Few pigeons, very few sparrows, no insects...
          The place is surgically clean, the grass 30 +- 2 mm, no debry in sight...

          Makes u think, yes?

          --
          old saying: "a troll is a window into the soul of humanity" + also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ajax
          • (Score: 2) by Vanderhoth on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:31PM

            by Vanderhoth (61) on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:31PM (#83973)

            Yeah, one extreme to the other. I personally like the birds, we have a lot of sparrows, chickadees, and Robins here, but I love the Cardinals and Bluejays... Not the baseball teams though. ;)

            --
            "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
          • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:36PM

            by Thexalon (636) on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:36PM (#84002)

            Now, i have lived in sweden for 25 years, and here is the thing:
            Few pigeons, very few sparrows, no insects...

            Possible explanation: It's too bloody cold in Sweden for those animals to live there!

            --
            The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by opinionated_science on Thursday August 21 2014, @06:52PM

            by opinionated_science (4031) on Thursday August 21 2014, @06:52PM (#84041)

            yes, that mortality was probably not so good in Romania...

            Then again, Sweden has a vastly different ecology? Romania is almost Mediterranean (borders the Black sea).

    • (Score: 2) by nukkel on Thursday August 21 2014, @08:00PM

      by nukkel (168) on Thursday August 21 2014, @08:00PM (#84070)

      Problem with some folks these days is they refuse to embrace solutions which are anything less than 100% perfect.
      This being one example, nuclear power is another obvious one.
      Meanwhile those same people are more than happy to keep burning carbohydrates for power which cause 100000s of deaths every year due to air pollution.

  • (Score: 1) by mrkaos on Thursday August 21 2014, @11:50AM

    by mrkaos (997) on Thursday August 21 2014, @11:50AM (#83886)

    Solar roasted chicken - it's so delicious!

    --
    My ism, it's full of beliefs.
    • (Score: 2) by danomac on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:28PM

      by danomac (979) on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:28PM (#83971)
      And for some strange reason, KFC starts opening up next to these solar plants...
    • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Thursday August 21 2014, @07:00PM

      by HiThere (866) on Thursday August 21 2014, @07:00PM (#84047) Journal

      From experience, if you want to roast a chicken you first want to remove the gall bladder. Carefully. (It's also quite good practice to remove the feathers and guts, but that's from practice, not experience.)

      --
      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by c0lo on Thursday August 21 2014, @11:51AM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 21 2014, @11:51AM (#83887) Journal
    What are they using to keep the birds far from airports? Something like this [bird-x.com]?
    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Thursday August 21 2014, @08:53PM

      by evilviper (1760) on Thursday August 21 2014, @08:53PM (#84098) Homepage Journal

      What are they using to keep the birds far from airports?

      They hire falconers, schedule flights around birds, destroy habitat as much as they can, and generally don't care about a few bird strikes here and there, but only want to break-up the flocks that will cause major damage to jets.

      Of course airports don't have mirrors all over the place that look like very tempting lakes to all the birds flying by.

      --
      Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
  • (Score: 3) by Phoenix666 on Thursday August 21 2014, @11:54AM

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Thursday August 21 2014, @11:54AM (#83888) Journal

    This smells a lot like the tactic fossil fuel companies have been using for years to combat wind farms, ie " Oh noes! Birds fly into wind turbines and get chopped to bits. Oh the humanity!" I'm sure it makes the MBAs at the coal and oil companies chuckle at their cocktail hours over how snarky that tactic is.

    You would think they would come up with a different class of victims than birds for solar, but they are not terribly creative as a bunch.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @12:01PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @12:01PM (#83891)

      but they are not terribly creative as a bunch.

      They're sticking with what works: a tactic that gets idiots to do all their work for them by parroting the lines all on their own, and not even asking for a paycheck for it like typical shills.

      • (Score: 3) by carguy on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:35PM

        by carguy (568) on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:35PM (#83926)

        ... by parroting the lines ...

        I see what you did there.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by n1 on Thursday August 21 2014, @12:51PM

      by n1 (993) on Thursday August 21 2014, @12:51PM (#83904) Journal

      I'm at a loss to how some opponents of 'green' energy have a serious objection to the eyesores that are solar and wind farms. As if they're nostalgic for the beauty of oil wells, refineries and coal mines. Big Oil must be proud.

      • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:37PM

        by Phoenix666 (552) on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:37PM (#83927) Journal

        Exactly. When Ted Kennedy and his wealthy neighbors on Cape Cod were fighting the offshore wind farm I thought the power company ought to have first proposed building a coal-burning plant in their midst, and then compromised by offering to build a wind farm instead.

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
      • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:53PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:53PM (#84005)

        Ahh, but all that oil/coal/natural gas stuff was far far away in West Virginia or Western Pennsylvania or the Middle East or the Gulf Coast. Wind farms are going up in much nicer places, and Not In My Back Yard thinking takes over.

        Personally I find windmills to be rather picturesque, but then again I'm not busy trying to joust with them. And solar panals on rooftops and over the top of parking lots (added bonus: parking lots are less rainy, windy, or baked in as much sunlight) just make perfect sense.

        --
        The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
    • (Score: 2) by rts008 on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:04PM

      by rts008 (3001) on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:04PM (#83936)

      I find it interesting that the 'omg!! killing the wildlife' opponents to alternative industry seem to have no issue with vehicles and roads killing the criiters, but solar or wind is Critter Apocolypse.

      It seems this issue(alt. energy) is the only place you really see the 'unholy union' of Envoirmental groups and Big Oil in bed together.

      • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:00PM

        by Phoenix666 (552) on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:00PM (#83960) Journal

        One of my favorites examples of this was a few years back when it was reported environmental groups were fighting the construction of solar plants in the Mojave Desert [yale.edu] to power homes in California, you know, the place that's always choking in smog. The environmentalists (those who were fighting it--others see it differently) were crying how it was going to ruin the scenery. Hello! It's. A. Desert. Nobody lives there. It's rock and sand. All five of the lizards that inhabit that particular stretch of wasteland would probably thank you for building solar panels that create shade for them to get out of the sun. It's one thing if you're talking about a cool desert like the Painted Desert in New Mexico, but the Mojave is a blasted expanse of nothing.

        It's a similar story with wind farms. They tend to be built in places where there's a whole lot of nothing except wind. The handful of ranchers and farmers who do live there love them because it amounts to an extra income from the leases while not precluding the ranching and farming they want to do. The only ones you ever hear complaining are the whiny rich ladies who think the turbines spoil the view from the McMansion they built 6 months ago. Me, I love driving across the Midwest and West now and seeing the fields of turbines. It's 21st century and majestic.

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @05:16PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @05:16PM (#84011)

          Your screed mixes up all kinds of things.

          First, there is lots of wildlife in the mojave [blm.gov] and they are adapted to living in it the way it is, tons of man-made shade will disrupt their lifecycle because they've had millenia to evolve to the current conditions.

          Second, the desert is a beautiful place. I've driven past the Ivanpah plant quite a few times in my commute from Vegas to LA. It is really cool to look at it. But 100 of them would be ugly as sin.

          As for windmills, I agree they aren't ugly even an entire windfarm isn't bad. But their surface area is miniscule compared to Ivanpah and what surfaces they have blend in far better with the background.

          • (Score: 2) by tathra on Thursday August 21 2014, @06:55PM

            by tathra (3367) on Thursday August 21 2014, @06:55PM (#84042)

            Second, the desert is a beautiful place. I've driven past the Ivanpah plant quite a few times in my commute from Vegas to LA

            there's the problem: you've never actually been in the desert, merely driven through it. i have lived in the desert, including living in the mojave for a month. a lot of the wildlife stays under rocks during pretty much the entire day to get out of the sun, so solar farms would provide some much-needed shade, and if they could be constructed to work as solar stills as well it'd be even better for the natural plants and wildlife; anything that didn't want the shade provided would just lay in between or climb on top, but since its like 30°F hotter in the sun than in the shade, i doubt anything would. not even getting to all the solar energy wasted, the wildlife would only benefit from the construction of solar farms.

            now i agree, they shouldnt be everywhere, because it definitely is fucking cool to be able to look across 30+ mile stretches of desert that only look like a couple hundred feet and everybody should have the chance to experience that, but solar farm installations would provide some much-needed perspective for anybody that might end up getting lost in the desert, as well as provide a place to rest in the shade and call for help.

            • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Thursday August 21 2014, @10:49PM

              by evilviper (1760) on Thursday August 21 2014, @10:49PM (#84135) Homepage Journal

              i have lived in the desert, including living in the mojave for a month.

              A month? You must be a real expert then... Me and my 30+ years in the Mojave bow down to your expertise.

              a lot of the wildlife stays under rocks during pretty much the entire day to get out of the sun,

              Some animals are diurnal, some are nocturnal. Anywhere you go, a good half of the animals will be hiding "under rocks" during the day.

              There is still plenty of wildlife out during the day, including jackrabbits, lizards, squirrels, snakes, tortoises, birds, etc. Occasionally raccoons, bobcats, etc. Got a cougar taking up residence in nearby hills right now, though they never stay here for too long.

              the wildlife would only benefit from the construction of solar farms.

              There have been things like... actual STUDIES on the topic. They don't agree with your assessment. I'd say it's no-doubt better to build solar farms in the desert than clear-cutting a forest, but it will still displace and kill many plants and animals. All those reptiles, for one, NEED all the sunlight they can get. Ditto for plants. They scoff at your squishy human preference for shaded areas.

              --
              Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
              • (Score: 2) by tathra on Friday August 22 2014, @02:01AM

                by tathra (3367) on Friday August 22 2014, @02:01AM (#84183)

                i have lived in the desert, including living in the mojave for a month.

                A month? You must be a real expert then... Me and my 30+ years in the Mojave bow down to your expertise.

                a month is still more experience than simply driving through ;) but still, i should've specified that i meant death valley rather than just "southern california", of which the mojave takes up a significant portion, and the environment is different (yeah, i should've thought more before typing but i didnt realize that practically half of cali was the mojave). i dont really have any experience in the general mojave except for driving through it to the death valley area.

                please do point me to some of those studies, as i dont seem to know the proper search terms to get anything to show up on the first 5 pages with google. naturally before any major project to harvest large amounts of wasted sunlight in life-barren deserts there should be studies to determine how much they disrupt the environment.

        • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Thursday August 21 2014, @08:43PM

          by evilviper (1760) on Thursday August 21 2014, @08:43PM (#84091) Homepage Journal

          It's. A. Desert. Nobody lives there.

          Many millions of people live there. California, Nevada, Arizona, have large cities in the Mojave Desert. It's a great place to live because of cheap real-estate; evaporative ("swamp") coolers being extremely efficient, far better than air conditioning; and the very small amount of annual home heating required. The higher cost of water is a minuscule price to pay in comparison, and highly water-efficient appliances and fixtures can reduce water usage dramatically.

          I think solar power in the deserts is a good thing, and worth the trade-off, but it's not nearly the abandoned wasteland you make it out to be, even if it that's all you can see from the freeway... "The Mojave Desert is one of the most popular tourism spots in North America"

          In fact, I'd bet the Mojave Desert is likely more densely populated than large swaths of the plains and mid-west ("flyover country").

          the Mojave is a blasted expanse of nothing.

          There are several wilderness reserves in the Mojave. The Mojave National Preserve is obvious. Death Valley, Nopah, Lake Mead recreation area, Joshua Tree National Park, parts of the Grand Canyon, etc.

          In fact, just try here:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mojave_Desert#Parks_and_protected_areas [wikipedia.org]

          And here:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Protected_areas_of_the_Mojave_Desert [wikipedia.org]

          --
          Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
    • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Thursday August 21 2014, @08:24PM

      by evilviper (1760) on Thursday August 21 2014, @08:24PM (#84081) Homepage Journal

      This smells a lot like the tactic fossil fuel companies have been using for years to combat wind farms, ie " Oh noes! Birds fly into wind turbines and get chopped to bits. Oh the humanity!"

      I don't see the sneaky conspiracy there. Bird strikes are a real problem with any kind of large structure. And fossil-fuel power plants face stiff fines for any endangered birds that get killed, while solar/wind have been handed an exemption thus far.

      --
      Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
  • (Score: 2) by geb on Thursday August 21 2014, @12:02PM

    by geb (529) on Thursday August 21 2014, @12:02PM (#83892)

    Ironically, you'd get fewer bird deaths if you were delivering space based solar power down to the ground via "death ray" microwave beam.

    All the proposals I've seen for microwave power transmission have relatively low, thus safe, power density down at ground level.

    Shame it would be so ludicrously expensive.

    • (Score: 2) by Vanderhoth on Thursday August 21 2014, @12:38PM

      by Vanderhoth (61) on Thursday August 21 2014, @12:38PM (#83899)

      I agree. It's a really interesting concept.

      On the other hand I don't know if we need more crap floating around over our heads that could get knocked out of orbit by some rouge Russian satellite. I'm only picking on the Russia here because it actually happened a couple years ago (Nasa alert as Russian and US satellites crash in space [theguardian.com]). I was working on a project that used Iridium satellites to track beacons planted ice flows in the arctic when one of the Iridiums were taken out by a defunct Russian satellite. Made a mess the Iridium network for several weeks. It seems most countries have big plans to put stuff up there, but they really never think about how they'd get it back down or out of orbit when it reached end of life. Now cleaning up the junk up there is a huge issue, but instead of focusing on cleaning it up governments just want to keep putting more up there, making the problem even hard to solve.

      --
      "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
      • (Score: 2) by geb on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:20PM

        by geb (529) on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:20PM (#83920)

        A power sat would have to be in geostationary orbit, which is a lot higher than most of the junk. It's better maintained, partly because it's more expensive to get there, partly because everything's going in the same direction, and partly just because it's so irreplaceably useful. The Iridium constellation are in low orbit, right in the middle of the floating scrapheap nearer Earth.

        A big construction project like a multipart solar power facility in geostationary orbit would almost certainly contribute some junk, which would annoy a lot of people, but it would also mean we had the infrastructure for a cleanup project. With everything in more or less the same orbit, relative velocities are low, so cleaning geostationary would be much cheaper than collecting all the crap in LEO.

        • (Score: 2) by Vanderhoth on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:34PM

          by Vanderhoth (61) on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:34PM (#83925)

          I still agree.

          What I'd like to see though is a requirement for anything, no matter how big or small or where it sits in orbit, to have a plan to bring it back or get rid of it at end of life. Nothing should just be left to float around to reek havoc on other objects. Of course there would also need to be an option open to have the life expectancy incrementally extended if an object is well maintained and/or can be shown to be in good working order.

          --
          "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:13PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:13PM (#83964)

            "reek havoc", "rouge satellite" -- the fuck? :)

            • (Score: 2) by Appalbarry on Friday August 22 2014, @02:09AM

              by Appalbarry (66) on Friday August 22 2014, @02:09AM (#84185) Journal

              Truly. Did our SoyOverlords quietly install a last generation auto-correct during the last big code upgrade?

              Or has the site finally reached the tipping point where all of the illiterate people arrive and take over?

              Pro Tip For New Soylentils; If you see a squiggly red line under a word, it probably means you should check the spelling. And even if you don't, it's worth taking time to check out your grammar.

        • (Score: 1) by subs on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:24PM

          by subs (4485) on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:24PM (#83947)

          With everything in more or less the same orbit, relative velocities are low, so cleaning geostationary would be much cheaper than collecting all the crap in LEO.

          OTOH, it takes a lot more energy to get to GEO, so that would work to offset most, if not all of these savings. Also, GEO is *a lot* bigger, so stuff, including junk, is much further apart, requiring a completely different collection method. Once collected, getting it back down again also takes a lot more energy. One of the easiest methods of getting a cloud of small debris to reenter would be to blow gas at it and slow it down just enough so that orbital decay due to atmospheric drag does the rest over the course of a few (tens of) years. This approach would obviously not work in GEO, simply because the objects of interest are much further apart and at best you'd impart a little bit eccentricity to the objects (which arguably makes the danger posed by these objects worse, not better).
          Contrary to the common image of satellites lingering around once they're past their lifetime, the usual approach is to move them to a permanent disposal orbit, just far enough so that they don't endanger the functioning constellation. This gets a bit more difficult in near-Earth orbits because of fewer places to go and satellites usually lacking significant thruster capability for large orbital changes, but it is still far preferable to just leaving them where they are. For really LEO (<500km) satellites, they can either lower their perigee to have atmospheric drag take care of the rest, or often even without an orbital change, residual atmospheric drag and orbital perturbations will take care of the job (over some considerable length of time, of course).

        • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Thursday August 21 2014, @08:21PM

          by evilviper (1760) on Thursday August 21 2014, @08:21PM (#84080) Homepage Journal

          A power sat would have to be in geostationary orbit, which is a lot higher than most of the junk.

          GEO has plenty of junk, more than enough to be likely to take down orbital power panels. In fact the problem is worse, in part because the junk just doesn't get brought down by the atmosphere in short order as it would in LEO.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_junk#Debris_at_higher_altitudes [wikipedia.org]

          --
          Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
      • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Thursday August 21 2014, @08:10PM

        by evilviper (1760) on Thursday August 21 2014, @08:10PM (#84074) Homepage Journal

        some rouge Russian satellite

        Does it have-to be red? Maybe the Russians wouldn't mind using some other color of makeup, if we ask nicely.

        --
        Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by acid andy on Thursday August 21 2014, @12:54PM

    by acid andy (1683) on Thursday August 21 2014, @12:54PM (#83907) Homepage Journal

    Just encase the entire plant in plexiglass (or just glass?). The light will still reach the mirrors, but the birds won't reach the focal point of the light. In fact there may just be a comparatively small danger zone around that focal point that would need blocking off. They might need to subtly alter the shape of the mirrors to correct for refraction by the plexiglass but I can't imagine it would make much difference. I'd be interested to hear if there are any other technical reasons why this wouldn't work.

    Of course they'll never do this for the same reason they'll never put protective cages around wind turbines and ships propellers: profit is infinitely more important to these amoral assholes than the lives of anything that isn't human. Actually, anything that won't sue them!

    --
    Where did that thought come from? And that one? What about this one? Woah, man...
    • (Score: 2) by Vanderhoth on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:18PM

      by Vanderhoth (61) on Thursday August 21 2014, @01:18PM (#83919)

      If the light ray is strong enough to set a bird on fire as it flies through, I imagine it would instantly melt the plexiglass. On top of that, birds flying into houses, and other buildings kills 25 million birds a year. So I'm not sure if encasing the focal point or entire complex (over 14,000 hectares) in a nearly invisible barrier would help much.

      On the plus side they do get pretty hefty fines for killing wild life, all energy sector supposedly do, not just solar. I think if the solution was that easy they'd do it.

      It's actually kind of funny because when you Google "fines bird deaths energy" you're presented with a list almost exclusively about wind and solar companies getting $1 million fines, when you Google "oil fines bird deaths energy" you get a bunch of links to blogs and articles about how oil industry has been fined $15,000, but those rotten renewable industry clowns, killing 400,000 birds a year, have yet to have a single fine leveraged against them...

      --
      "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
      • (Score: 2) by Boxzy on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:01PM

        by Boxzy (742) on Thursday August 21 2014, @02:01PM (#83935) Journal

        You wouldn't put the glass in the focal point, you would surround the focal point with glass. It would not get hot.

        --
        Go green, Go Soylent.
        • (Score: 2, Interesting) by deimtee on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:18PM

          by deimtee (3272) on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:18PM (#83966) Journal

          Why bother with glass or plexiglass. Cheap wire netting would work fine, probably block less energy than the glass would reflect, and wouldn't be anywhere near as big a problem in high winds.

          --
          No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
          • (Score: 1) by rfree on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:10PM

            by rfree (4618) on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:10PM (#83992)

            Mmmm, melted metal.

            Either way, ecologists should then go, if they want, hire scienist, come up with a solution, crowd fund it (please hands off from my wallet. stop grabbing my asswallet ecopervs) and do it.

            Actually I might even donate to such a thing in my area if I care about given e.g. birds (like them or what ever), and if there exists actual viable not moronic solution that doesn't cost x10 more then say saving birds in other way and does very little while ignoring bigger problems for birds or other animals.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:24PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:24PM (#83998)

            Yup, good ole' mosquito netting should do the trick.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by MrGuy on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:11PM

      by MrGuy (1007) on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:11PM (#83962)

      The challenge is scale.

      You're talking about completely enclosing an area that's considerably bigger than a sports stadium (which is about as large as "enclosed open strucutres" get today). Even using incredibly lightweight materials, and using efficient shapes like a geodesic dome, we're talking an unprecedented feat of engineering to make something large enough to enclose the entire mirror array. Maybe an active structure (like the Metrodome's "it was great while it lasted" inflatable bubble) would ease the materials need, but you're still talking something crazy huge.

      And then you potentially have the issue of birds flying into the dome itself (like a giant french door), which may or may not be a bigger hazard to birds.

      Also, you need to keep it clean somehow to keep the power plant efficient, which even in a desert is not a job for the faint hearted.

      A potentially better idea is NOT to enclose the plant, but rather enclose the pathways between the focusing mirrors and the boilers (e.g. with a several-foot-in-diameter lightweight pipe). The mirrors need to move to find the sun, but the path between (optical center of the mirror) and (optical center of the boiler) will by design be fixed, and (again by design) be relatively narrow. The pipes wouldn't even need to be transparent - they're enclosing a beam of focused light, so they don't "block" anything, so you can avoid the "fly into it" risk that a transparent pipw or dome has.

      The issue with this approach is shadows - the pipes at various times of day are casting shadows on the other mirrors, so you reduce efficiency (you have this regardless of whether the pipe is opaque or transparent - even a transparent pipe will act as a prism and distort the light into something other than the perfectly parallel rays the sun usually provides). How BIG a problem this would be is left as an exercise to the reader.

      • (Score: 2) by Vanderhoth on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:43PM

        by Vanderhoth (61) on Thursday August 21 2014, @03:43PM (#83979)

        The path from a single mirror to the tower would be a beam and could be focused through a single tube. The issue with this method is it doesn't scale. The mirrors surround the tower, all 300,000 of them, and none of the beams follow the exact same path since they're coming from 300,000 slightly different points. So you'd need some 300,000 tubes, that all merge at very specific angles, at some point to make that feasible. Giant cones would probably be a better solution, but as you said then the tubing, or cones, becomes a problem because it'll basically blot out the sun by casting a huge shadow on the mirrors.

        --
        "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
    • (Score: -1, Troll) by rfree on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:07PM

      by rfree (4618) on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:07PM (#83990)

      Something is not perfect in the world... I know... YOU GO FIX IT!

      Lol.

      Ok listen here young leftist(meaning the socialist who forces others to do the good deeds), if you want this done, go to school, become investor or director of a power plant (or advisor to one) and make it happen. Or *you* go build the plexiglas things... into which birds will crash.. uh. Well either way, you have some not realistic solution to problems, you go do them.

      Next, go teach foxes to stop hunting game in forests.

      • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:59PM

        by acid andy (1683) on Thursday August 21 2014, @04:59PM (#84006) Homepage Journal

        I don't think I'd ever refer to myself as left wing or socialist and as another soylentil mentioned the concepts of left and right wing are a simplification that can get distracting.

        On the whole I don't think other people should be forced to do good deeds. I don't think, in general people should be forced to do things. I do however think other people should avoid doing bad deeds if the end doesn't justify the means. Of course the judgement of whether something is morally justifiable is very subjective. The point is though that if someone does something (or reveals plans to do something) that they know is morally questionable, it's perfectly reasonable to expect other people to judge them and apply pressure.

        To get back on topic for a moment, it's hard for me to say whether these power plants are justifiable according to my own moral standards, but that's largely irrelevant. They will face intense protest from other people either way. I was just trying to illustrate that there may be ways around it and pointing out that these compromises will likely be left out due to the desire to maximize profit.

        --
        Where did that thought come from? And that one? What about this one? Woah, man...
      • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Thursday August 21 2014, @05:18PM

        by acid andy (1683) on Thursday August 21 2014, @05:18PM (#84012) Homepage Journal

        Ok listen here young fascist (meaning the extreme right winger who seeks to silence peaceful protest), if you want to stop the crazy greens, go to school, start your own private security firm and offer your services to the power plant, or start your own political party, run for office to try to ban environmentalism.

        What's that? You don't want to? You were just casually debating a topic for the sake of intellectual discussion? lol So was I. : )

        --
        Where did that thought come from? And that one? What about this one? Woah, man...
      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @05:19PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @05:19PM (#84013)

        > Ok listen here young leftist

        Being concerned about externalities doesn't make one a leftist.

        • (Score: 2) by MrGuy on Thursday August 21 2014, @06:24PM

          by MrGuy (1007) on Thursday August 21 2014, @06:24PM (#84028)

          Actually, in the current environment, it kinda does, unfortunately.

    • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Thursday August 21 2014, @08:06PM

      by evilviper (1760) on Thursday August 21 2014, @08:06PM (#84072) Homepage Journal

      Just encase the entire plant in plexiglass (or just glass?).

      No.

      1) That would be ASTRONOMICALLY expensive. You're talking about a field of mirrors larger than some cities.

      2) Glazing rejects about 40% of incoming light. This has long been a limitation for rooftop solar hot-water heating systems.

      3) Birds aren't going to pull an Ocean's 11 type heist, TRYING to break-in to an area that will kill them... A few vertical walls of chain-link fence, or even finer mesh like chicken-wire, should be able to greatly discourage birds from flying through the most dangerous spots and probably get the death-toll down to more reasonable figures.

      4) If you're going to require ridiculously expensive counter-measures to save a few (non-endangered) desert birds, companies will simply not build power plants of that type, ever again. PV is already more popular than solar-thermal, so more of those will likely be bought from China. Alternatively, those still interested in the benefits of solar-thermal power may have to switch to a design like "parabolic trough" like SEGS Kramer Junction.

      --
      Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
    • (Score: 2) by istartedi on Friday August 22 2014, @06:42AM

      by istartedi (123) on Friday August 22 2014, @06:42AM (#84244) Journal

      You don't need to encase the whole thing. You just need to keep birds out of a radius around the focal point. First, check to see what the smallest possible bird is. Next, build a wire mesh around the radius. It's actually not a complete sphere, since the beams are reflected up to a tower. A hemisphere seems like the obvious, shape but perhaps not practical. Maybe a cylinder is best, but anyway; it could be simple wire mesh. Yes, there would be some power loss but it might not be too bad. It may or may not be cost effective to make the mesh harvest some power, since it would harvest it much less efficiently than the highly concentrated area near the center.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @05:15PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21 2014, @05:15PM (#84010)

    Giant "Duck Hunt" remake from NES

  • (Score: 1) by jb on Friday August 22 2014, @05:21AM

    by jb (338) on Friday August 22 2014, @05:21AM (#84229)

    Why not just erect a few scarecrows?