mattie_p writes that this was originally submitted by cmn32480 via the forums.
"According to Fox News, environmentalists are concerned about the impact of the world's largest solar plant, which is located in the Mojave Desert, on the local bird population. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (a solar thermal plant) covers nearly five square miles, has approximately 350,000 garage door sized computer controlled mirrors, and has temperatures near the boilers reaching 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant owners NRG Energy Inc., Google Inc., and BrightSource Energy say they have found dozens of dead birds in the complex in the last several months, some with burned or scorched feathers. The plant cost $2.2 Billion to construct, and had been held up in regulatory and wildlife relocation fighting for several years. It has officially been open since Thursday, February 13, 2014."
I like mine Extra Crispy!
I don't want to sound glib, but no doubt jet engines get quite a few birds, and highways get untold manner of critters as well.
Hey, they test jet engines on how much poultry they can ingest; and I've got some experience running down the occasional stray bird. Whump.
"...and highways get untold manner of critters as well."
No kidding. Why isn't Fox News blathering about all the deer I see splattered on the roads near my house? Or oil covered birds you can find washed up on practically any beach on the Gulf Coast?
Sounds like "green-bashing" to me (dead birds, or no).
"Such utility-sized solar plants are beginning to appear across the US, with 232 under construction, in testing or granted permits, many in the south-west and California" (my emphasis)
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/21 /solar-power-farm-california-us-renewable-energy-w ildlife [theguardian.com]
With numbers like that, it's no wonder the carbon industry is going on a PR campaign.
I agree!!Let 'em fry! Compared to the number of other animals killed everyday for our survival or even comfort, this seems laughably miniscule...
On the other hand, if there's some cheap and easy method for scaring the birds away, it isn't going to impact the efficiency of the plant and should be implemented.
It's not like a farmed field where there's food drawing birds in all the time. Any kind of scare should be effective.
Well, I can agree with that...
I spent some time around a catfish farming operation in Mississippi once. Periodically, there would be a sharp gunshot-like sound, which apparently kept birds away from the ponds... minimizing catfish-feed losses. Perhaps something like this could be helpful at the solar plant?
That or a recording of a hawk. Most birds run (well, fly) for cover when they hear that.
They could just use some of their useless managers as scarecrows around the facility. Win-win.
The KFC that opened next door has just reported record profits.
Some kind of selection is usually at play and works itself out.
to save the birds from this menace is to destroy that facility, then get back to burning clean, smooth, refreshing coal. Don't hear about birds dropping from that, do ya? They probably love it.
I'll take your coal, and raise you an oil.
Consider yourself Exxon-Valdez'ed.
Or BP Deepwater Horizoned
Yup. But then there are all those critters maimed to death in the coal mine. The only reason the article is news, is that the dead birds are found on site contrary to remote places for power plants.
Well, if Fox News says it's true, then it must be!
They are the most unbiased of all the news organizations!
I debated whether or not to post this due to the foxnews link, but pressing concerns and editorial deadlines forced my hand.
"We at Fox News will clearly show that we are not the most biased news station and that therefore we have 'less bias'. This will somehow demonstrate something we say has value if other stations can be shown to be biased. We're teaching the controversy of non-white Santa (which everyone knows Santa and Jesus were white), surely you can teach the controversy of creation." Sincerely Fox News
Are you accusing them of misbeh-avian?
They have been bird-ly behaved in the past.
People who think we can make energy in some way that never impacts anything need to get it through their heads that it's practically impossible to make a power plant of any kind without having some effect on the surroundings. The fact that a bunch of "environmentalists" would go after one of the least polluting power plants in the USA, probably the world just drives me up a wall.
These concerns should obviously be addressed in planning, but I am sure there is far more low hanging fruit as far as power generating stations are concerned, in other words, dear "environmentalists" go do something more productive.
Oh and die in a fire fox, you're a plight on humanity.
This reminds me of the same argument being made by environmentalists against wind power; and in that specific case, I think the table on the right in the relevant wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] says more than enough. Of course without some real numbers it is difficult to say what the exact impact of solar power plants would be, but I'm guessing it won't be anything near the level of the dreaded common house cat.
I consider myself an environmentalist, but solely on the basis of humankind's self-interest, so I have little time for concerns about the wildlife that is affected by renewable energy generation.
The 2nd type of environmentalist actually cares about the planet and other species in their own right. This is a consistent position, held by a minority. On viewing the avian mortality table you referred to, they should be in favour of as much wind power as possible in preference to burning fossil fuels.
The 3rd type are idiots who like to jump on bandwagons and are opposed to almost everything, especially anything new. I suspect Britain's bird protection society falls into this category [rspb.org.uk].
Actually the wikipedia table says not nearly enough. Problem is it groups all bird species together, and the danger, and the impact, may be species specific.
So, domestic cats may kill thousands of times as many birds as wind turbines, _but_ wind turbines appear to be particularly deadly to raptors, and domestic cats are very very unlikely to be deadly to large raptors. Wind turbines may well kill 100 times as many large eagles as domestic cats do, and the large eagles are rarer and take much longer to grow (and hence to replace).
The real question is not how many birds the solar facility will kill, but which ones and what impact. If it kills a few thousand starlings, then really who cares - there are millions and millions more. If big shiny mirrors happen to be very attractive to bald eagles and it frys a few thousand of them... then you have a major problem.
Cats are cool, and I love mine -- but they don't really go for a fair fight. They want to be the cement truck running down a kid on a trike. My experience with cats and chicks (of the chicken type) is that once a chick is about as tall as a cat, the cat will leave it alone. As for hawks and eagles, it would have to be some rare especially agro cat who'd target those, especially considering that larger eagles could just carry the cat away for lunch.
That said, there is no power generation without cost. Compared to the impacts of coal, oil, NG -- I have trouble believing that this plant is a major problem on a wider scale.
To save me from googling, any idea what the nameplate capacity is of theplant?
Let's fry enviromentalists instead...
The problem is that any idiot can say anything they like and then some other idiot can call them an "environmentalist". Anyone with half a brain cell can see that despite the down sides this is going to be much better than the equivalent coal, gas or nuclear plant.
This is indeed a good point. When we have nuclear plants spewing radioactive waste and gas powered cars leaking gasoline and oils onto the roads, coal spewing mercury, the so called environmentalists complain about solar power! The solar power plant was in fact built in a place that has the least environmental impact possible, a desert, which has relatively low biodiversity, rather than a rainforest (tropical or temperate) which is an important oxygen producer and has many times more species diversity.
There's actually a bit of a problem due to the location. The species that generally live in a desert tend to be thinly spread, and easy to drive towards extinction. OTOH, birds in general are rather mobile, so this may not apply to them. You'd need to know what species. I'm much more concerned about the surface plants that are spread in such a thin layer that you can't see them. Traffic that breaks up the surface can take decades to recover from. And in the meantime, the sand is much more mobile (i.e., easier to blow around). IIRC they tried to mitigate this problem during the construction, but I don't know how successfully. However, if people and cars start going there, things could get very disruptive.
If this is the one I'm thinking of, it's just west of the I-15 south of Primm, NV.The coolest thing is, during some times of day, the focus is just to one side of the tower. You end up with this little floating ball of light. It's neat to see.
About the only power source that even has the potential to work woithout killing wildlife outright and minimizes the effect on habitat is nuclear, but they don't seem to like that one.
"...Why would anyone use this lame unit is beyond me. It is obvious the context calls for *-roof based surface unit."
I believe the editors were trying to avoid that ever-present confusion between the Standard measure(Roofs), and the Imperial measure (Rooves).
Well, this is Fox News, so it should be fairly clear we're talking about Hummer-sized garage doors.
If a story references Fox News turf it. Espically if it has anything to do with politics, the environment, science or the economy. They have a well known bias and history of misrepresenting, and right out lying about, the truth to serve a well known agenda. Fox is an entertainment channel not a news channal and it hurts the creditability of anyone who takes them seriously.
Not totally necessary, as long as you take with a massive grain of salt. That, or read in the summary what the supposed issue is, then go looking for other sources. This is a discussion site more than a news one, so, actually, who really cares what's in TFA, hey? :P
So, we will be eliminating left-wing news as well? Are you sure? No more New York Times, BBC, Agence France-Presse, Los Angeles Times, MSNBC...in fact that eliminates quite a large swathe of the mainstream media. Unless you're one of those "everyone who disagrees with my political opinions is WRONG" types.
Lighten up, Francis.
The thing most people don't understand is that in order to produce energy, you have to make choices. All energy have impacts (hell, even wind energy, which is costly, have enviromental impacts).
The only option is stop using energy: shut down your AC, your lights and everything else. Are you so enviorementalist at this point? I don't think so.
"The only option is stop using energy: shut down your AC, your lights and everything else. Are you so enviorementalist at this point? I don't think so."
I agree with your sentiment but saying that's the only option is a bit much.
Dozens of dead birds over a five-square-mile area over multiple months is pretty vague. At the low end it works out to under two birds per square mile per month, which doesn't seem unusually high.
This isn't my area of expertise, does anybody know what's considered normal or 'acceptable' for bird deaths?
It would depend on the species, some might be quite abundant and a high rate of casualties might be acceptable, i.e. a dozen pigeons wouldn't matter, a dozen condors would be a different story.
What do you mean, African or European?
...and were the birds burned before they died, or after they'd died and sat in the heat/reflected sunlight for a period of time?
Fox News missed the real story. There aren't enough scavengers to consume or otherwise remove the dead bird population. Because of the larges fences around the installation, low wage workers must be hired to removed the few dozen dead birds. With the current labor markets, there is a shortage of people willing to accept low wages for menial tasks. We need real immigration reform if we're going to have enough underpaid illegals to remove dead birds from fields of solar panels. If we don't enact new legislation now, we will be buried by mounds of dead birds. Think of the children! They will have to walk over mountains of disease infected dead animals just to get to school each day. Tell you congressman today to vote for immigration reform to save us from the dead birds! Tell them Fox News sent you.
How many birds are fried, and is it environmentally significant? THIS is what nerds should be concerned about. All this Fox faffing is pointless, and these environmentalists emoting is a waste of energy. There should already have been an impact study done, but if there are extra concerns more data should be collected and conclusions drawn.
Is 'garage door sized' the new unit of comparison ? I was brought up on Olympic Sized Swimming Pools
I prefer to know what things are based off Volkwagen Beetles (the old hippie version)..
Here in the uk garage doors are tiny, so no big worry.
Bird deaths are also an objection people have with wind turbines.
It's that old argument about externalities. We have trouble quantifying the local wildlife damage caused by traditional power generation, so we assume those sources where we can quantify the damage are somehow worse.
A plant that has only been open a year is going to need time to address these problems. Perhaps they should put up warning signs?
This reminds me of an old Daily Show bit where duck hunters were complaining about wind turbines that were killing ducks. http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-august-2-201 1/fowl-wind [thedailyshow.com]
We're never going to have a neutral way to fill our ever increasing power demands. We pollute the air with coal, have disposal issues with nuclear waste, harm our waterways and with hydroelectric dams. If we were to turn off everything that had an impact on flora and fauna, we'd be living in the dark, riding horses, and certainly NOT watching Fox news.
At the end of the day, Fox is serving its constituent viewership rather than just reporting the news. Poor Walter Cronkite is likely dizzy from all the rolling in his grave.
Hayfields for feeding horses displace wildlife.
Just got the best. UID. Ever. I love this place.
"Just got the best. UID. Ever. I love this place."
Congrats, dude! I assure you, there was plenty of talk about the race for that UID. The "Friend" icon is the icing on the cake.
I should have used the name "Area".
420? Is this a weed reference? Should my user name have been "four"?
I'd prefer 455 myself.
Is this why it's the best UID?http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=588 [urbandictionary.com]Curious minds want to know...
588 is the message ID, not my UID.
Whoops, thanks for correction--you do have a cool UID.Lame excuse? Too early, no coffee when I posted "588".
I knew it was going to happen. Here, have a bowl of wax to celebrate!
Damned if you do, damned if you don't. If we all return to caves the camp fires will mean cutting down trees and CO2 emissions, and de damned if you eat any animals because PETA will be knocking on your cave door.
You can't make a cake without breaking any eggs, and we got a flippping big cake baking here.
Solar is the way of the future. However, a lot of those investments (Solyndra was one of them) are motivated by the Global warming scare. Yes the climate is changing, but guess what; a few thousand years ago, we had about a kilometer of ice over our heads. Yes, we need to reduce our consumption of resources. However, in the current economic system, it is impossible. Since we live in a giant Ponzi scheme, if we stop growing, we collapse economically. And at the present, we can't grow substantially without hydrocarbons. So, all economists pushing for "carbon credits" and such are just reaching for your wallet without giving anything back.
I encourage you guys to just take a peek at the documentary called "The Great Global Warming Swindle" on YouTube. Just take a peek, even if it is to destroy its arguments. It's pretty insightful.
I mean, come on, Ivanpah? Helios one is miles away from there.
I wonder if it would be possible to keep them away by a sound they dislike or are afraid of? Any thought about this?
Airports manage to keep birds away fairly well, you'd think the same principles could be brought here.
That's what I was thinking. Maybe put solar-powered loudspeakers that give off occaisional predatory bird calls on some poles.
Oops. Misspelled occasion.
You show concern for one spelling mistake in your reply? You must be new around here.
Everyone is new here...or is that a "Whoosh!"
They should put the solar array in space and use a really long extension cord. Of course then you'd have to worry about the people claiming the loss of sunlight hitting the surface due to the orbiting solar array would result in a new ice age...
It's not that we should automatically discount anything that FOX News puts out, but given their obvious biases we should at least get some corroboration before taking what they say as fair and balanced truth.
I love birds. And I hate the thought of wild birds getting fried just so I can turn on the lights at night.
But the impact from this type of power generation is so much gentler on the environment than anything else currently operating at that scale it's not even funny.
The so-called "environmentalists" who would object to something like this could only possibly be satisfied if all humans suddenly committed suicide -- and then, they'd probably still whinge about the pollution from our own rotting corpses.
That writ, my hunch is that the long-term future isn't in solar thermal, but in solar photovoltaic, with some sort of storage. But I bet the anti-human faux-environmentalists will find some way to object to that, too....
That may depend on your time frame. Certainly in space solar-voltaic has been proven, and solar-thermal hasn't even been tried. Probably the problem is that radiative cooling is inefficient. On Earth though, it seems less clear. Small installations have gone solar-voltaic. I haven't heard of, say, a sterling engine being used commercially. For larger installations, though, the trade-off may be different. It likely depends on what batteries are like. (Solar-thermal power is easier to store. All you need is some good insulated cavity to store it in.)
So one question is: How rare are the necessary trace elements? And another is: Can you make an efficient photo-cell & battery out of only the more common elements? These aren't important in the short term, but they matter greatly in the long term.
I don't understand why people frequently assume that pointing out a problem in a system means that the observer must be against the entire thing.
As others have pointed out, bird strikes are also a concern for wind farms. When environmental groups started documenting this, FOX news jumped on them also.
Pointing out externalities is not hypocritical, turning a blind eye to facts that don't fit your pre-existing world view would be hypocritical.
So, there *could* be a problem. There are some questions to ask:1. What were the species involved. Are any of them threatened/endagered?2. Are the bird deaths the result of the solar farm? What is the null expectation of bird deaths? Is finding bird carcasses in solar farms more likely simply because there is a greater human presence there? (Sampling bias).
If these questions can be answered, then are there ways to keep birds away? Perhaps ultrasonic, strobe lights, kites? It seems that there should be many possibilities.
I had been dismayed lately reading commentators at a DICE property that would immediately take political positions when presented with, what I would expect Geeks and Nerds to recognize as engineering problems. I hope this is not also the case here.
We can be glad that children can't fly :) Seriously though, how can this be an anti-solar argument in a world that literally produces 84 million tonnes of Chicken McNuggets every year? And I wonder how these power plants fare compared to the kill ratio of other energy sources. How many fish does a hydro plant shred every day?
Former Slashdot(RIP) user here...I just want to give you guys a heads up about a cool Greasemonkey script which works on Soylent News:
Slashdot Expandable Comment Tree v2
Adds [+][-] symbols next to all comments allowing you to expand and collapse any of them for viewing. The script is here-----http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/38184 [userscripts.org]
To modify the script to work on SoylentNews:
Open the script in a text editor, and add this line: // @include http*://*soylentnews.org/*
Not sure this should have been modded down.
This might be a little off-topic but this is a great workaround for the comment expanding for now. Thank you for posting.
"Any bird that flies directly through the beam of a solar reflector isn't too bright."
Yeah, a regular bird-brain, you might say, but if the beam is sufficiently intense to cause them to burst into flame, then they might be very bright indeed, if only for a short period of time.
Please, no FOX 'News' articles. Go deeper with the link or find another source, as the obvious bias from Faux is something we as a community of rational and logical minds should not tolerate.