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."
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.