Update on solar and wind power, 2-26-14 – solar #12

News articles on the environmental damage from slice-and-dicers and wing-toasters are piling up faster in my archives than I can post the info.

So, I guess it’s time to start writing short updates. On other topics covered on this blog, I’m calling those brief comments about a topic more good stuff.  Since uncontained, unresearched environmental damage is not particularly good, calling these updates more good stuff won’t work.

Here’s some brief updates:

2/15 –  San Bernardino Sun – Ivanpah partners tout solar-thermal generating plant’s success – Article discusses the gala grand opening of the Ivanpah plant, which is a sufficient large scar in the desert that it is visible from the International Space Station.

Article says there are dangers to insects and bats, as well as birds. I’ve not had opportunity to research that issue.

The reporter, Jim Steinberg, asked the plant’s managing partner about the status of the effort to relocate a large number of desert tortoises, but did not receive any reply by press time.

The program manager of the National Parks Conservation Association said the survival rate of the desert tortoises after they are relocated will be very low. Apparently, those critters spend their long life slowly learning where they can find water and plants. Moving them to a different location means they won’t know where they can find water or find food.

Not a good formula for short-term survival.

The bird fatalities are continuing. I’ll quote one sentence verbatim:

Some 44 birds have been found dead on the plant site, which has three electricity producing units, since it went online in December, officials said last week.

That’s a substantial number considering the plant was at a small fraction of capacity when it went on-line in January and those two months aren’t in the main migration timeframe.  I’ll try to track that down further.

1/21 – KCET – Bird Deaths Continue at Ivanpah Solar as Tortoises Go Missing – Chris Clarke reports 13 dead birds were found in December.

He also reports that 23 tortoises in holding pens are missing. Five have not been seen for over a year. Each of them have a tracking device which allows monitoring of each tortoise.

The holding pens have netting and fences around them sufficient to keep out ravens, who apparently hang around trying to figure out how to turn the young tortoises into an easy dinner.

Distemper outbreak in kit fox population

I’m slowly catching up….

In 2011 and 2012, the first ever outbeak of distemper hit the kit fox population.

The source of the outbreak is unknown. The location is.

The outbreak started at the Genesis Solar Energy Project, which is a billion dollar solar plant near Blythe, California.

The disease has spread. Biologists, according to old articles, were trying to sort out the vector, extent of damage, and a plan for containment. At the time of those articles, they had no answers to any of those questions.

Possible sources of the outbreak I’ve seen mentioned: contamination of the coyote urine placed around dens of kit foxes to chase them out of the construction zone, distress caused by the efforts to chase them out of the area made them vulnerable to disease, or a pet dog taken for a walk in the area left contaminated urine.

I see in the comments and discussion a common theme that I’ve noticed elsewhere in articles discussing environmental damage from solar and wind power: “I just don’t know” and a frustrated shrugged shoulder seem to be frequent replies from experts and company representatives when discussing cause and extent of harm.

Two helpful articles:

I’ve seen three comments on the status of kit foxes:

  • they are an unprotected species, or
  • they are protected under California state law, or
  • they are an endangered species under federal law.

Will try to track that down later; a few moments of research didn’t give me a clear answer. Can anyone enlighten me?

2/20 – KCET – ReWire – Opposition Mounts to Solar Project On Mojave Preserve Boundary – Chris Clarke can really crank out the news reports, huh? Just like Amy Dalrymple in North Dakota. 

Soda Mountain Solar Project is one of two new solar projects approved for the desert. Mr. Clarke provides more background on the project. It would have 358 MW capacity and use about 4,200 acres of land. Could have a substantial impact on quite a few rare/ threatened/ protected species. Other challenges for the project’s viability will be insufficient transmission capacity to move the electricity and no interest from utilities in buying any of the electricity. Mr. Clarke reports opposition to the project from environmental groups is shaping up to be unanimous.

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