Update on solar power – #26
Here are a few articles on the environmental damage from solar energy: half the Palen plant has been tentatively approved and an AP article that shows how the debate over environmental damage from solar farms has shifted.
9/15 – ReWire – California Set to Approve Controversial Solar Plant – Chris Clarke reports the California Energy Commission let loose an announcement at 4:55 on a Friday that it had tentatively approved half of the Palen Solar Electric Generating System. Late Friday news releases are a tested bureaucratic trick to get news out yet avoid lots of attention.
The tentative plan is expected to be rubber stamped on October 29. The approval is for only one of the two proposed towers.
It will be 750 feet tall in contrast to 460 at Ivanpah. The commission acknowledges there will be four times the risk to birds from each tower at Palen compared to one tower at Ivanpah. That puts the risks of wing-toasting higher at Palen with one tower than when all three towers at Ivanpah are roasting at full power.
The report from the commission indicates they approved this knowing that the impact on cultural resources cannot be mitigated, the impact on visual appearances cannot be mitigated, the impact on biological resources cannot be mitigated, and the avian impact cannot be substantially lessened. (That means the impact on birds can’t be mitigated.) They know it will harm the view, cultural resources, birds, and other critters.
That doesn’t change the decision. Full steam ahead.
8/18 – AP – Emerging Solar Plants Scorch Birds in Mid-Air – Major article from AP is apparently getting a lot of attention. It discusses the large number of birds being killed at the Ivanpah facility.
Second paragraph reports what I’ve previously mentioned that federal investigators saw one ‘streamer’ every two minutes during a visit. Facility owners say some of those are due to insects or dust clouds. Federal investigators point out they regularly saw birds flying into the solar flux immediately before the streamers dropped to the ground.
Article also points out the glare is enough to interfere with vision of pilots flying airliners to Vegas and LA.
There are several photos with the article, including two dead birds with feathers burned off. I will quote two phrases of the caption under Fair Use provisions of the copyright laws.
Look at the description in the caption of the extent of harm:
…thousands of birds are dying yearly…
And notice particularly the cause. They are
…roasted by the concentrated sun rays….
Things have changed if the AP is reporting that thousands of birds are dying. The change is even more significant when those birds are described as being “roasted.”
That is possibly an emotional description, but is actually fair and quite accurate. Flying through a 750 degree field and either getting severe internal injury from the heat or having flight feathers burned off would seem to warrant the description “roasted.”