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 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.