Environmental harm along with not-so-good financial results for thermal solar farms, part 2 – solar #8


(Photo by James Ulvog)

Previous post highlighted financial info about solar farms I learned from an article in the Canada Free Press dated 1-18-14:  Hard Times Hit Large Scale Solar Energy.

This post describes new info I learned about the environmental damage from the Ivanpah solar farm.

Next post will paint a picture of how I’m guessing one solar farm was financed and discuss the prospects for future thermal farms.

Environmental harm

The article linked above goes into detail on the environmental damage from the Ivanpah project I’ve discussed before.

Melted wings

The article gives some detail on solar flux near the collecting towers melting the wings off birds. I’ve discussed that in several previous posts.

Two likely causes of bird fatalities mentioned in the article are the same as I’ve mentioned before. First, the glare off solar panels looks like water, which draws waterfowl, who think they’ve found a lake. Second, the thermal flux burns feathers.

Desert tortoises

The developer knew there were lots of  desert tortoises on the site before the project was approved. The article says the company and state regulators negotiated changes to reduce the impact by dropping the size of the project and reducing the number of towers from 7 to 3. Picture the visual scars to the desert scenery along the I-15 with seven collecting towers.

The article says the company has spent $56M to relocate tortoises and built fifty miles of fences to keep them out at cost of up to $50k/mile. The fences were another $2.0M or $2.5M.

The article says the initial expectation was for there to be 16 tortoises on the site, so the feds gave permission to relocate 38.  By 3/12, the article says 166 have been moved.

Oops. Only off by a factor of ten. CPAs would say that is very material.

Takings – the permit from FWS allowed up to three accidental deaths for each of the three years of construction, per the article.

Let me rephrase that.  The project owner got written permission to off 9 desert tortoises, according to the article.  No mention in anything I’ve read thus far in this or other articles of permits to off migratory birds.

Next post:  future prospects for thermal solar farms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *