Update on solar power – 7/25 – solar #22

A few articles on the danger to flying birds, flying planes, and barely-flying economies.

flying birds

Intentional, willful undercounts of toasted wings – 6/25 – ReWire – Panel Discards Scientists’ Recommendation on Wildlife Kills at Solar Plant.

An inter-agency task force addressing the high bird mortality at Ivanpah dismissed multiple recommendations from the scientists and researchers advising them. They decided not to:

..search at the base of the heliostat on a daily basis – instead the once or twice a month counts will continue.

..expand the search area beyond the perimeter of the facility – 95% of the birds that have been found are within 285 yards of the tower. Reminds me of the drunk who wandered around at night looking under streetlights for his keys. Why is he looking there? That’s where the light is. During his lifetime of being a drunk, 95% of the time when he found something it was under a street light. He rarely finds things he has lost anywhere else. Of course he hasn’t found most of the things he ever lost.

.. Clear vegetation inside the fence line so the facility isn’t as attractive to competitors that would eat birds or remove them before they could be counted.

.. Suspend operations during the peak migration time.

The only thing they’re going to do is study whether there are a lot of monarch butterflies dying and use trained dogs to help look for birds. Since they only do a search once or twice a month that might help a little bit.

Still reminds me of auditing with your eyes closed. Really hard to find exceptions to an audit test (which is the purpose of the test) when you try not to find exceptions.

flying planes

Glare from Ivanpah confirmed as danger to aviation – 7/17 – ReWire – Federal Study Confirms Aviation Glare Hazard From Solar Project – Sandia National Laboratories, one of the main national research labs, reports the glare from the Ivanpah facility is severe enough to create risk of significant after image for pilots up to six miles away. Since the facility is near the Las Vegas airport and there are 120 commercial flights over the facility every day, seems to me this is a serious threat to aviation. The glare means pilots can’t look toward the facility which means they can’t be on watch for unexpected aircraft in that direction. An after image means a pilot’s eyes will have temporary blind spot thus the pilot will be ineffective in searching for aircraft.

After a bit of searching, I found the report here. Vast majority of it is over my head.

I did understand enough to realize that even if the danger is caused by mirrors in the standby position, focusing them at random will still leave a few heliostats pointing at an airplane miles away. One of the filtered photos shows that a dozen or so heliostats are creating most of the glare in one blazingly bright unfiltered photo. It doesn’t take a several hundred mirrors pointed at you to create dangerous glare – a dozen will do (there are around a hundred thousand heliostats at the site).

The research was performed in April 2014, presumably well after the facility has calibrated their heliostats. Photos show the standby mirrors creating a halo to the side of a tower. They are focusing at the same spot, thus created glare danger for nearby planes.

barely flying economies

Yet one more chapter in the ‘solar power can’t stand on its own’ saga – 7/2, Crony Chronicles U.S. Approves $230 Million For Solar Panels in Chile. And Solar Server – USD 290 million IFC OPIC loans will allow First Solar to proceed with construction of a 141 MW PV plant in Chile. $230M from US taxpayers and $60M from World Bank. At a guaranteed funding of about $2.05M/MW, that should be all they need to fund the project and should be a reasonably lucrative project.  One of many concerns with solar power is it can’t stand on its own without subsidies, guarantees, and (in the US) forced purchases by customers.

Green energy devastating to German consumers; electricity is ‘luxury good’ – 7/21 – Daily Caller – Germany’s $412 Billion Green Energy Plan Meets Harsh Reality – Costs double simultaneous with increased green energy production.  Percent from green energy has increased from 4.3% to 23.5% between 1990 and 2012.  Consumer electricity costs have gone from $0.18/kwh to $0.38/kwh between 2000 to 2013. Article says average cost in US over the last decade has been stable at $0.13. Media sources in Germany are often calling residential electricity a ‘luxury good.’ Those exorbitant costs are also hurting their economy.

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