Some updates on bird fatalities at solar farms (solar #6)

K Kaufmann from The Desert Sun has a followup report to the article I discussed here and here.  Newer report, which I just read recently, is from 11/22/13:  What to do about bird deaths at solar and wind farms.

Regulatory compliance reports are summarized for the Ivanpah solar farm. Here’s the data:

  • September – 34 dead birds – 15 with melted wings
  • October – 53 dead birds – 22 with melted wings

The wing-toasting facility’s mortality count went up in October. Not quite the trend needed to argue solar farms aren’t hurting birds.

The article points out that small song birds are a higher share of the melted wings than the total fatality count. Reason? Nobody knows.

Which is the point. The people who work in the green energy area and their regulators don’t know much of anything about anything in terms of the environmental dangers from wind and solar.

A few more pieces of info on the Ivanpah facility:

The towers are 459 feet tall and have about 100,000 panels around each of the three towers, according to the article.

The article cites a recent study about bird mortality from wind turbines. I can’t quite put the numbers into perspective, but here they are:

  • Turbines in California – estimated 108,715 per year
  • Turbines in remaining western states – 22,177 per year
  • Eastern states – 44,006 per year
  • Great Plains states – 54,115 per year

I don’t know if that includes all turbines in the country, but that tally from that study suggests at least 229K birds sliced and diced per year.

The article also raises a long list of questions that ought to be asked about renewable energy sources. We would benefit from having those discussions.

In my opinion, there would be a wonderful breakthrough with wide-ranging benefit for our whole country if there were general acceptance that we have to make tradeoffs in everything we do, including wetlands laws and migratory bird protection act and the endangered species act.

For example, what is the acceptable number of dead golden eagles per MW hour? Bald eagles? Condors? 

What’s the upper limit on how many migratory birds can be killed per MW of solar power?

Current federal law says the answer to those questions is zero without a pre-approved permit, but that is flaunted every day of the year at every slice-and-dice farm and every wing-toaster facility everywhere in the country.

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