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posted by Dopefish on Monday February 17 2014, @10:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the solar-is-still-awesome dept.

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."

 
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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Konomi on Monday February 17 2014, @10:16AM

    by Konomi (189) on Monday February 17 2014, @10:16AM (#547)

    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.

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by wboelen on Monday February 17 2014, @10:31AM

    by wboelen (225) on Monday February 17 2014, @10:31AM (#551) Homepage

    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.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Open4D on Monday February 17 2014, @11:18AM

      by Open4D (371) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 17 2014, @11:18AM (#573) Journal

      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].

    • (Score: 1) by choose another one on Monday February 17 2014, @02:01PM

      by choose another one (515) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 17 2014, @02:01PM (#698)

      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.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by hemocyanin on Monday February 17 2014, @05:44PM

        by hemocyanin (186) on Monday February 17 2014, @05:44PM (#887) Journal

        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.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by cx on Monday February 17 2014, @10:59AM

    by cx (239) on Monday February 17 2014, @10:59AM (#565)
    On one hand, I find such attitude amusing, as it reveals most of people attracted to the cause have little to no clue about how the sausage is made and get agitated when they see any actual power plant. I'd send them on a two week vacation next to a coal-burner and then conduct an exit interview regarding solar.

    On the other, knee-jerk reactions like these drown legitimate environmental concerns in the noise.
  • (Score: 1) by bcrow on Monday February 17 2014, @11:28AM

    by bcrow (408) on Monday February 17 2014, @11:28AM (#578)

    To save me from googling, any idea what the nameplate capacity is of the
    plant?

  • (Score: 0) by AlbertMaurice on Monday February 17 2014, @12:26PM

    by AlbertMaurice (446) on Monday February 17 2014, @12:26PM (#618)

    Let's fry enviromentalists instead...

  • (Score: 1) by mojo chan on Monday February 17 2014, @01:36PM

    by mojo chan (266) on Monday February 17 2014, @01:36PM (#675)

    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.

    --
    const int one = 65536; (Silvermoon, Texture.cs)
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by eravnrekaree on Monday February 17 2014, @01:47PM

    by eravnrekaree (555) on Monday February 17 2014, @01:47PM (#686)

    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.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by HiThere on Monday February 17 2014, @07:57PM

      by HiThere (866) on Monday February 17 2014, @07:57PM (#1002) Journal

      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.

      --
      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
      • (Score: 1) by ragequit on Tuesday February 18 2014, @08:37PM

        by ragequit (44) on Tuesday February 18 2014, @08:37PM (#1887) Journal

        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.

        --
        The above views are fabricated for your reading pleasure.
  • (Score: 1) by sjames on Sunday February 23 2014, @11:27PM

    by sjames (2882) on Sunday February 23 2014, @11:27PM (#5366) Journal

    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.