Update on solar and wind power, 5/9 – solar #20

Here’s a few articles on the environmental issues with solar and wind energy. Since the uncontained, unresearched, unquantified environmental damage from slice-and-dicers and wing-toasters is not particularly good, I can’t call this series more good stuff like the other updates on this blog. So here are a few updates including more consequences of wind power, impact of natural gas, and two articles on solar facilities in California:

4/28 – Syracuse, byline AP – 4 dead after small plane crashes into South Dakota wind farm in fog (coverage can be found at many other places)- Plane with pilot and three passengers hit a wind turbine in foggy weather. Will have to wait for investigation report to see if pilot error is the issue or whether white turbines without lights in foggy weather disappear from sight. There are 27 turbines each 213 feet tall plus blades at the site. Article says there was another fatal crash in 2008 when a pilot without proper instrument training hit a wind turbine in southeast Minnesota.

4/29 – The Feed – US Takes the Green Lead – Rapid increase in natural gas consumption in the U.S. is displacing far dirtier coal. As a natural consequence, the U.S. is reducing carbon output more than the EU with all their caps and limits and so-called green energy. Change in emissions during 2012:

  • US – down 3.4%
  • EU – down 1.3%

5/7 – The Feed – Europe Buys Record Amounts of Dirty US Coal which cites 5/5 – Wall Street Journal – Dirty U.S. Coal Finds a Home in Europe – There is a massive increase in coal exports from the US to Europe, especially England and Germany. Germany decided to close down nuclear for baseline loads and shift to coal. Exports to the EU are up by a factor of 3 in 11 years; up by a factor of ten to England. From low emission source to dirtiest emission source. U.S. is burning far less coal and Europe is burning far more.

5/5 – ReWire / KCET – Another Huge Solar Plant Goes Online in California Desert – A 250MW parabolic mirror solar plant went online officially on April 24. The Genesis Solar Energy Project was built by NextEra Energy Resources and will sell its power to PG&E. The project is 20 miles west of Blythe California off the I-10 freeway on BLM land. The facility probably won’t be as bad for wildlife as the Ivanpah facility, but lots of birds will probably be lost because the 600,000 mirrors look like water from the air (that is theory why there are so many dead migratory birds at solar facilities – no one really knows why so many water birds land and die in the middle of the desert). The danger is birds trying to land on what they thought was water will pick up blunt force trauma when they glide down and collide with a mirror.

5/5 – ReWire – KCET – Opposition Grows To Proposed Solar Tower Project – Keep an eye on Palen Solar Electric Generating System as the next big addition to the wing-toasting solar world. The owner, BrightSource Energy and Abengoa Solar (DBA Palen Solar Holdings) is asking the California Energy Commission to reopen hearings on their plans to build a 500MW solar concentrating power plant with two solar towers 750 feet tall. Ivanpah has three towers to gather sunlight and toast birds. Palen will only have two. Mr. Clarke’s article says there is growing opposition to the project, primarily because the danger to birds from the 750 degree solar flux around the towers. Project will be 36 miles west of Blythe, only about 16 miles from Genesis.

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