Filed under: Politics | Tags: The Ecology of the Desert, The Economics of Energy, Vaporized in a Puff of Smoke
“After several studies, the conclusion for why birds are drawn to the searing beams of the solar field goes like this: Insects are attracted to the bright light of the reflecting mirrors, much as moths are lured to a porch light. Small birds —insect eaters such as finches, swallows and warblers—go after the bugs. In turn, predators such as hawks and falcons pursue the smaller birds.
But once the birds enter the focal field of the mirrors, called the “solar flux,” injury or death can occur in a few seconds. The reflected light from the mirrors is 800 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Either the birds are incinerated in flight; their feathers are singed, causing them to fall to their deaths; or they are too injured to fly and are killed on the ground by predators, according to a report by the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory.”
We’ve seen the slaughter of birds caught in the revolving blades of wind energy turbines, but even nastier is the nearly invisible vaporizing of birds that fly into the new Ivanpah solar mirror project in California’s Mojave Desert, seeking to feed on the insects that are drawn to the light of the reflecting mirrors, as moths are drawn to the lights on our deck in the summer night.
The birds are uncountable, for dead birds on the ground may not be an accurate way to measure the impact on the entire ecological food chain. Many of the birds are simply vaporized in mid-air and there is no trace of them left— except a momentary puff of smoke.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement staff observed birds entering the solar flux and igniting, thus becoming a ‘streamer’ — an average of one streamer every two minutes. Solar thermal tower energy plants thus become what is technically called an “attractive nuisance,” in real estate terminology. Yucca moths are a species of moth essential to pollinate Joshua Tree yuccas. The moths cannot live without the yuccas, the yuccas cannot live without the moths. Are we wiping out the yucca moths? Such is the ecology of the Mohave.
“If a bird is vaporized in a forest of solar panels and no evidence is left behind, did it ever happen?”
Robert Bryce adds at Master Resource:
Without cheap, abundant, reliable supplies of electricity produced from coal, the ongoing revolution in information technology, as well as the age of biotech and nanotech simply wouldn’t be possible. Electricity accelerates the trend toward objects and systems that are Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper.
The essentiality of electricity to modernity is incontrovertible. Countries that have cheap, abundant, reliable supplies of electricity are able to bring their people out of darkness and poverty and into the light of the modern world.
So we subsidize wind energy, which is intermittent and requires 24/7 backup from a conventional power plant. We subsidize solar energy which is only available in the daytime, when it’s not cloudy, and requires 24/7 backup from a conventional power plant. Wind turbines chop up birds of prey and solar arrays vaporize them.
” Over the past half decade or so, just the growth in coal use is equal to about 25 times the contribution now being made by all of the world’s solar projects.”
“While we remain obsessed with so-called “clean” energy here in the U.S. the rest of the world is rushing to produce electricity from the cheapest fuel they can find. And that fuel continues to be coal. ”