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Published on August 22nd, 2014 | by Jake Richardson

64

Bird Deaths From Solar Plant Exaggerated By Some Media Sources

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August 22nd, 2014 by  

There seems to be some hysteria online about bird deaths associated with the Ivanpah solar project in California. For example, this news article calls the solar power plant a “death ray as if it is a weapon. The same article says that hundreds of thousands of birds might be dying, or 28,000 or 1,000. That is a very wide range, and at least suggests that no one may have precise numbers. So is the total 100,000 or 1,000? Brightsource says the number is much lower than 1,000.

ivanpah
What do these numbers mean compared to other sources of bird deaths? Power lines alone might kill up to 175 million birds a year, according to a US Fish and Wildlife Service document. Up to 3.7 billion are killed by cats.

Also, the authors of the sensational articles don’t provide information on the hazards of fossil fuels to wildlife to balance their content. More than one million birds died due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, according to the Audubon Society. The oil industry contributes far more to bird deaths each year than this one solar power plant, so why did the authors not mention this fact? “Every year an estimated 500,000 to 1 million birds are killed in oilfield production skim pits, reserve pits, and in oilfield wastewater disposal facilities,” explained a document from the  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Up to 402,000 birds have died due to oil development in Canada’s tar sands.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has said that coal and other fossil fuels are a greater risk to wildlife:

Based on the comparative amounts of SO2, NOx, CO2, and mercury emissions generated from coal, oil, natural gas, and hydro and the associated effects of acidic deposition, climate change, and mercury bioaccumulation, coal as an electricity generation source is by far the largest contributor to risks to wildlife found in the NY/NE region.

14,000 chickens are slaughtered each minute in the US, according to the Organic Consumers Association. Are we supposed to be believe that the authors of the articles about ‘incinerated’ birds from the solar plant are animal rights activists and perhaps vegans that care about all birds, including chickens and turkey?

In the article first mentioned above, somehow, the so called ‘death ray’ then morphs into many CSP towers that could cause catastrophes, “With enough towers, a ‘mega-trap’ that decimates ecosystems might be created.” What exactly is a “mega-trap?” How many CSP towers would have to be built for such a thing to ever happen? Is it even possible? It sounds more like science fiction than fact.

Also, just how many CSP towers are there in the US? It sounds as if there may only be about several, and other forms of CSP are hardly booming. In fact, Greentechmedia reported in 2012, that no CSP projects were completed in the US. So, no mass CSP power towers getting out of control,  and no ecosystem decimation seems likely.

Also, are the Ivanpah birds rare or endangered, or are they more common and in great supply?

No one wants any birds at Ivanpah to die, but at this point, it does seem to be a fairly minor issue. Are we supposed to believe that some of the authors of these articles are great bird lovers defending wildlife based on sound evidence and effective reasoning? Or is their motive simply creating clickbait articles to get pageviews or bashing solar power?

First it was criticizing wind power for bird deaths, which was and is a legitimate concern. However,  some critics were clearly exaggerating the impact to smear that form of clean energy. Seems like its happening again, but with solar this time.

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About the Author

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Google Plus.



  • http://muckrack.com/dotcommodity Susan Kraemer

    For a factual count – 321 total, 133 with evidence of singing, see the documents filed at the California Energy Commission:
    google:
    Ex.1203 – Summary of ISEGS Bird and Bat Mortality – January through June 2014

    These figures are from HT Harvey & Assocs
    http://www.harveyecology.com/

    google:
    TN# 202617 Avian & Bat Monitoring Plan 2013-2014 Winter Report

    (the links don’t work on the CEC, so go via Mr google)

  • UpperLeftCoast

    I find it very disappointing that many solar energy advocates, when environmental damage from poorly thought out energy generation schemes are revealed, react just like the most knuckle-dragging redneck. Really. In some of the posts below you could substitute highway, lead bullets, coal plant, subdivision, etc. and it would read no different.

    • AltairIV

      Perhaps. Or perhaps us tree-hugging hippies just prefer to take a more careful, reasoned, large-scale view of situations like these. To sum up my personal attitude…

      1) Don’t jump the gun and make blanket condemnations based on incomplete data. Wait until the actual figures are in before making any final judgments. But do keep in mind that numbers like these have often been grossly exaggerated in the past, and the initial reports here appear to be following that trend.

      2) Pay attention to the larger picture and try to understand the true scale of what’s happenng in comparison to the whole. Even when taking the worst-case figures into account, it’s rather clear that that the problem is not as critical as it may seem at first glance. We need to also keep in mind that this is a relatively new, developing industry, and have patience. Even the best laid of plans are going to encounter unforseen circumstances from time to time. One doesn’t just abandon a useful technology because of a few initial stumbling blocks. The kinks WILL get ironed out over time.

      3) When the true figures come in, THEN it becomes time to take action. IF bird deaths are indeed too high, then we will figure out how to deal with it. There’s every reason to believe that a few minor changes in equipment and procedure would bring it back down to acceptable levels. The worst case scenario would be the need to shut down the site entirely, and despite what you may believe, I would absolutely be in favor of that, IF it should turn out that there are no better options.

      4) Again looking at the larger picture, I also think we should consider other options outside of fixing the site. If the goal is to reduce the overall number of bird deaths, then perhaps the most effective use of resources isn’t to fix the site itself (although that will be done in any case), but to target reductions in mortality in other areas. Most importantly I recognize that, since fossil fuel pollution kills vastly more wildlife than all renewable generation combined, it would be better in absolute terms to build more sites like this as fast as possible, to hasten the transition away from the even more damaging technology. Not that we would do so without taking steps to keep our own damage to a minimum, of course. And I’m sure most of us are in favor of reducing other causes of bird mortality no matter what happens here.

      5) Whatever happens, we need to take advantage of it as a learning experience and use it to improve future development. As a historical example, bird deaths from wind turbines were heavily skewed by the experience at Altamont Pass, but it did help to teach us what we needed to fix. New turbine sitings are now done with much more care and planning to minimize the risk to local wildlife, and research is underway to continue making it even safer. Onwards and upwards.

      So tell me please, is mine the typical reaction of a “knuckle-dragging redneck”?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Exactly which comments advocate turning a blind eye to a potential problem?

  • UpperLeftCoast

    This article makes no sense. Yes, there are larger cumulative sources of mortality. But these fatalities (however many) are in addition to those, not instead of.

  • NRG4All

    I suggest they open a KFC. The birds have the feathers burned off and cooked at the same time. This is like mana from heaven, dinner falling from the sky.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Have you ever tried to make a hummingbird sandwich?

      Garnish, at best.

  • f_p

    What about all the the gas and methane flaring going on? Some sites show up like new cities on satellite images taken at night because there are so many gas flares…
    http://www.treehugger.com/energy-disasters/7500-new-brunswick-songbirds-fly-gas-flare.html

  • Todd

    They seem to use natural gas there, so perhaps not entirely clean “could also be called the world’s largest gas-fired power plant (largest in physical size, not gas consumption)” http://www.masterresource.org/2014/04/big-solar-big-gas-ivanpah/

  • Andrew

    The use of mortality statistics from other anthropogenic sources of bird deaths to justify the incidental taking at Ivanpah is a 5-year old’s reaction, “Johnny is doing it, why can’t I?” Why not take responsibility for the problem and work to find a solution? The deaths from other sources of mortality need to be addressed as well, not used as a justification for even great killing of birds.

    By the way, the FWS on-site survey was seeing evidence of 1 bird being burned every 2 minutes. If that is accurate, then 30 birds/hour X 12 hrs/average daylight = 360 birds/day X 365 days = 131, 400 bird kills/year. That’s almost 5 times the CBD estimate of 28,000 and about 130 times more than the operator’s estimate.

    Unsubstantiated exaggerations and false equivalencies are not productive in finding a solution if one exists.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes, ….”

      http://bigstory.ap.org/article/emerging-solar-plants-scorch-birds-mid-air

      I can read that two ways. Yours in which 131,400 birds are killed. Cut down from your 12 hours to a more realistic 7.5 hours.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivanpah_Solar_Power_Facility

      7.5 avg hours would mean 82,125 annual kills, the CBD number.

      Or I can imagine that the site visit might have happened during peak migration and one might expect a 1,000 or less kills per year as the site operator is stating.

      We don’t have enough data.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “The use of mortality statistics from other anthropogenic sources of bird deaths to justify the incidental taking at Ivanpah is a 5-year old’s reaction, “Johnny is doing it, why can’t I?””

      I have a couple of reactions to that.

      First, there needs to be some perspective as to how large a number 28,000 is. It sounds tremendously high, like it would wipe out species. But put into the context of 3.7 billion birds killed each year by domestic cats it’s clearly insignificant.

      That is not to say each bird is not precious. Just keep things in context.

      Second, we have to wait a while to see what the kill per GWh rate actually is. We have two very different numbers and don’t know if either is accurate at this point.

      If the number is 1,000 or less per year then that’s less than 1 kill per GWh (1079 GWh per year.)

      That would make Ivanpah a bit higher than nuclear at 0.6 and very much better than fossil fuels plants at 9.6/GWh.

      If the number is 28,000 per year then that’s about 26 kills per GWh and probably higher than we should accept.

      • UpperLeftCoast

        ” It sounds tremendously high, like it would wipe out species”

        If the species population is already depressed, yes, it could extirpate the population, which might or might not result in range-wide extinction. Again, this is an additional source of mortality. It does not substitute (i.e., reduce) for an existing source.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Thermal solar replaces fossil fuel generation.

          The kill count for coal and natural gas is extremely high when climate change species extinction is included.

      • http://muckrack.com/dotcommodity Susan Kraemer

        The actual count monitored by the CEC, was 321 birds in the first 6 months, Bob. Only 133 over 6 months were singed. So, at most it will be about 640 total in a year in he 3,500 acre site.

        Coming from you, I am surprised you even take that 28,000 figure seriously, which was a merely surmised “back of the napkin” estimate by the Center for Biological Diversity, an intervenor in the CEC Palen hearings, a NIMBY org trying to prevent any solar thermal in the desert, and using any means possible to kill it off. Getting it to the AP was a coup on their part.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I don’t have any data past what has been posted in media articles. The 28,000 number has legs and can’t simply be pushed aside due to it being “inconvenient”.

          If, and as I have continued to say, if the number is 28,000 it is serious and would likely prevent future builds.

          Now –

          It sounds like you’ve got an entirely different set of numbers.

          Give us the link/source. If you’ve got good data then we can start fighting the false information.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Susan, I think I found the source of your numbers. If so, this is not a bird kill count but a study of how the birds are killed.

            http://docketpublic.energy.ca.gov/PublicDocuments/09-AFC-07C/TN202538_20140623T154647_Exh_3107_Kagan_et_al_2014.pdf

            I’d suggest holding off on statements like “10 in January”, whatever. Those are just the numbers of birds they picked to take into the labs.

            There is some information about the “streamers” that were reported to occur every couple of minutes. They can be insects or even dust. Only a portion are birds.

            Summary: it would be nice if everyone held back for some reliable bird counts from trained biologists. Although I’m sure the anti-renewable crowd will make as much as possible out of the 28,000 number as possible up until then.

          • http://muckrack.com/dotcommodity Susan Kraemer

            They had to supply the numbers to the CEC. They have it on the company site, but it is also filed with the CEC

            To get accurate counts they hired HT Harvey & Assocs you could call them directly http://www.harveyecology.com/

            BTW, here is Genesis (trough CSP) numbers for same period from the filing with the cEC

            A total of 336 birds were detected during spring avian point count surveys and 274 birds during winter avian point count surveys. • The horned lark ( Eremophila alpestris ) was the most commonly observed species during both spring and winter avian point count surveys. Other commonly detected species included the black – throated sparrow ( Amphispiza bilineata ) and cliff swallow ( Hirundo pyrrhonota ) during s pring point count surveys, and the sage sparrow ( Amphispiza belli ) during winter point count surveys. All other species comprised less than 6 percent of the total number of birds observed during either survey season . •

            No ESA listed threatened or endangered species were detected during spring or winter avian point count surveys; however, other special – status species were detected . Special – status species detected during spring point count surveys include d one state – threatened species (Swainson’s hawk [ Buteo swainsoni] ) , three California Species of Special Concern (loggerhead shrike [ Lanius ludovicianus ] , northern harrier [ Circus cyaneu ] , and short – eared owl [ Asio flammeus ] ) , and two USFWS Birds of Conservation Concern (Brewer’s sparrow [ Spizella breweri ] and Le Conte’s thrasher [ Toxostoma lecontei ]) 1 . The loggerhead shrike and northern harrier were also detected during winter point count surveys 2 . •

            No bald or golden eagles were observed during avian point count surveys or incidentally during any field surve

          • Bob_Wallace

            Thanks, Susan.

            I’ll see if I can pour some cold water on a few people who are overheated at the moment.

          • http://muckrack.com/dotcommodity Susan Kraemer

            Haha. I can’t open your pdf (CEC formating is very weird), but here is what HT Harvey counted for 4 months Nov Dec Jan Feb: 53 total dead per this docket at the CEC on the tally earlier:

            Google this:

            07-AFC-05C 202363 May 22

            (They had heliostats and receiver in position for commissioning last year)

          • Bob_Wallace

            See if this works…

            http://goo.gl/jy8gHN

            And here’s the docket number (I know nothing about docket numbers.)

            09-AFC-07C

            Doc Title – Exh. 3107 Kagan et al 2014

          • http://muckrack.com/dotcommodity Susan Kraemer

            That docket 09-AFC-07C just means it’s part of the Palen permit process, but thanks Bob, this link works. Yes, I read this before. Interesting that CBD in this legal filing with the CEC do not mention the outrageous ‘back of the napkin’ estimate their guy tossed off to the Associated Press to spread the 28,000 dead birds nonsense to every paper in America. In the UK, you can be sued for lies.

            Here, by contrast is the methodology from HT Harvey & Assocs on how they estimate 1,000 from 321 dead birds in 6 months.

            http://docketpublic.energy.ca.gov/PublicDocuments/07-AFC-05C/TN202617_20140626T131025_Ivanpah_Solar_Electric_System_Avian__Bat_Monitoring_Plan;_20132.pdf

    • Peter Gray

      I’m as wary of false equivalencies as anyone, and they’ve been known to show up on this site now and then. But citing other bird mortality sources isn’t necessarily a false argument.

      The cited article, although sensationalized, at least mentioned some other human sources of bird mortality. But it didn’t give a clear bird/MWh rate, or any sense of how this plant compares with the energy sources that it can replace. You can be sure that when Fox hyperventilates over these iffy results, they won’t even mention windows, cars, or cats, not to mention coal or oil. Nothing we can do about that, but it doesn’t hurt to remind people to keep the purported facts in perspective.

      Putting this hazard in some kind of context in no way suggests that it doesn’t matter or that nobody should take responsibility and try to reduce the death rate. I don’t see Bob or anyone else who’s serious about this stuff even hinting at such a thing. Surely the Ivanpah operators are frantically searching for a good mitigation method, even while they do their best to slant the data in their favor.

      “The use of mortality statistics from other anthropogenic sources of bird deaths to justify [the Ivanpah bird toll]…” Those are your words, nobody else’s inclination. In his post just before the one you bash, Bob was pretty explicit that if the numbers are borne out at the high end, and no solutions are demonstrated, we probably shouldn’t build more of these plants. How is that a 5-year-old’s reaction?

      • Bob_Wallace

        Peter, do give Susan’s article a read…

        http://social.csptoday.com/technology/how-protect-birds-csp-towers

        • Peter Gray

          Thanks, Bob. That’s a good summary, good update on current ideas – and a useful perspective. Kinda confirms what I figured must be going on in the CSP industry.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If Susan’s data holds up then it looks like CBD might have totally destroyed any credibility they might have had.

            I’m really looking forward to this getting sorted out.

          • http://muckrack.com/dotcommodity Susan Kraemer

            Thanks Bob and Peter; you’re right. Ivanpah has begun to implement some of the bird deterrent ideas it has been testing already, according to Jeff Holland at NRG which is the operating partner now.

    • djr417

      I wouldnt trust those numbers (1 every 2minutes?).when the plants own numbers are considerably less, granted they arent imune from bias, but the original story threw out a few numbers- hoping one would stick, when in reality a whole years worth of data would be needed to get any kind of accurate count. Two other points to consider- the article suggest the birds are attracted to the insects that are attracted to the lights….but why arent the bugs getting zapped? And if the kill rate was indeed 1per 2minutes…even in a few months of operation they would have a huge collection, and wouldve undoubtedly started some kind of deterent system as that number would constitute a health hazard. That article reeks….and its not from the dead birds.

      • Bob_Wallace

        The “1 every 2 minutes” streamers are more than birds.

        “OLE staff observed large numbers of insect carcasses throughout the Ivanpah site during their visit. In some places there were hundreds upon hundreds of butterflies (including monarchs, Danaus plexippus) and dragonfly carcasses.”

        “When OLE staff visited the Ivanpah Solar plant, we observed many streamer events. It is claimed that these events represent the combustion of loose debris, or insects. Although some of the events are likely that, there were instances in which the amount of smoke produced by the ignition could only be explained by a larger flammable biomass such as a bird. Indeed OLE staff observed birds entering the solar flux and igniting, consequently becoming a streamer.”

        What we’ve got is a rough estimate of 1 every 2 minutes and some unspecified percentage birds.

        And the report authors call for a proper kill count. Which is what we need. Too much made from too little to date.

        http://goo.gl/jy8gHN

    • J-dawg

      Sorry but you’ve got it all wrong.

      We use electricity. If one way of making it kills 100 birds, and the alternative kills 10, highlighting the difference is neither immature nor an attempt to avoid responsibility for the problem.

  • Senlac

    Nice to have some clarity on this issue, some people will say anything. 28,000 or 75 per day is an a lot, 175 million by power lines, now that is a lot of birds. Oil and gas kill millions of birds each year, and to top it off, they kill us people as well LOL.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    So – these same people are really upset by all the birds that fossil fuel pollution kills, right? And buildings kill millions of birds – and feral cats!

    • Bob_Wallace

      Any problem that can be discovered will be used by fossil fuel and nuclear advocates. Don’t expect them to be fair and balanced. They are protecting their incomes.

      But if these facilities do produce significant bird kills we probably should build no more. It’s not like we don’t have cheap solar options.

      Ivanpah may be killing 28,000 birds per year. Ivanpah is expected to produce 1,079 GWh per year. That would be roughly 26 birds per GWh which is high for energy production.

      Wind farms kill roughly 0.27 birds per GWh.

      Nuclear plants kill about 0.6 birds per GWh.

      Fossil-fueled power stations kill about 9.4 birds per GWh.

      http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2198024

      • Hans

        The 28,000 ist at best an upper limit. Not the estimate of the average.

  • fevasu

    fucking propaganda of oil mafia with right wing paid media.

  • Bob_Wallace

    BrightSource reports 1,000 or less. CBD, the organization that worked with BrightSource to protect desert tortoise on the BS site has reported 28,000.

    That’s a very wide spread coming from two groups that are working together.

    The EPA wants a years worth of data before stepping in.

    If the number is in the 28,000 per year range I suspect this plant will be allowed to operate but it will be very difficult to get permits for another one of this design.

    One of the thoughts as to why the kill rate is so high (assuming CBD numbers) is that the shimmering mirrors look like a lake to birds and attracts them.

    • JamesWimberley

      What’s the evidence on bird learning? Animals do learn to avoid hazards. The Asian megacity Mumbai, a byword for overcrowding, has uninvited wild leopards in its city parks (link), They live off, and help control, the far too numerous feral dogs – and generally leave humans well alone.

      • Bob_Wallace

        There’s not a lot of information made public.

        What are these birds? 28,000 living year round in this desert area? Or flocks of migrating birds?

        If migrating flocks learning might not be very effective. (And if migrating flocks might the time period be short enough to close the plant during the season?)

        There is some evidence that waterfowl have changed their flight patterns around offshore wind farms, so who knows?

    • AltairIV

      28,000 per year is an average of over 75 birds per day. I find it just a bit hard to believe that a heap of bird carcasses needs to be cleared away every evening. Two or three a day… maybe.

      • http://muckrack.com/dotcommodity Susan Kraemer

        It was 10 for the month of January. Hardly 2 or 3 a day. Only in April (migration) was there 3 a day: there were 97 birds, 3 bats. Most of the birds were were humming birds and sparrows

        • AltairIV

          Thank you. That’s good news to hear. But what is the source for your info? Were you directly involved in gathering it?

          And it does confirm my thinking. I used “maybe” before because I really thought that 2-3 a day was still too high, but not completely out of the range of realistic possibility, unlike the higher number. So it looks like it’s generally perhaps two or three a week, with larger seasonal spikes, correct?

          Also, is there any indication that rare or endangered species are involved?

          • http://muckrack.com/dotcommodity Susan Kraemer

            No, but I interview those who are permitting the project, gathering the numbers for the CEC, and devising solutions to the problem, like bird deterrents. (To them the 321 dead birds in the actual count (-7 bats) is a serious problem to solve).

            By my count, 10 of these were humming birds – various species of them, and about the same of sparrows. They were clearly the highest numbers of any species. They are small birds, and humming birds do hover. I don’t know enough about birds to know if any were endangered, but they were species of larks and mourning doves.

            Here is the list:
            http://docketpublic.energy.ca.gov/PublicDocuments/07-AFC-05C/TN202617_20140626T131025_Ivanpah_Solar_Electric_System_Avian__Bat_Monitoring_Plan;_20132.pdf

      • djr417

        Not only would that be a full time job collecting them, but you’d have to wear a hardhat and possibly hazmat suit!
        Personaly, I see it as the Sun God Ra giving us biomass from the heavens.

    • Hans

      Googling around a bit learns that during a short sample interval, the researches saw two streamers per minute. However, streamers can be caused by anything that is burned by the concentrated solar rays, from debris to insects and indeed birds. So the 28 thousand is nothing but an upper limit, not an estimate.

      At some point somebody read sloppily, equalled streamers to birds, wrote a nice sensationalistic article, and now this nonsense is echoed around the net.

      • Hans

        Here is the original report as an attachment to some opposition piece to another solar project.

        http://docketpublic.energy.ca.gov/PublicDocuments/09-AFC-07C/TN201977_20140407T161504_Center_Supplemental_Opposition_to_Motion.pdf

        In the conclusion of the report:

        “Given these variables it is difficult to know the true scope of avian mortality at these facilities. The numbers of dead birds are likely underrepresented, perhaps vastly so. ”

        So vagueness galore. It would be interesting to track how the story travelled through the internets and who was the first to change “two streamer events every two minutes” (note the error in my previous post) to 28,000 bird deaths per year.

        • Hans

          Sorry another error. It should be “one streamer event every two minutes”

          • Hans

            Another sorry, I did not read all the new comments: Bob already found this document.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Apparently the ‘streamers are all birds’ and 28,000 came from the Center for Biological Diversity based on testimony from a controversial biologist.

        “Estimates [of birds killed] per year now range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.

        Let’s cover that 28,000 figure first. That number came from testimony offered to the California Energy Commission by ecologist K. Shawn Smallwood during hearing on the proposed Palen Solar Electric Generating System, which BrightSource would be building with partner Abengoa Solar in a joint venture called Palen Solar Holdings. Palen would have a design substantially similar to that of Ivanpah, but would be considerably larger.

        That means that the emerging issue of bird mortality at Ivanpah is of supreme concern to the regulators deciding whether to allow Palen to be built, as the Palen project would likely be even more hazardous to birds.

        In testimony offered to the commission on June 23, Smallwood discussed how he would estimate estimates of avian mortality at Ivanpah, based on recorded deaths at Ivanpah during April and May of this year. In that two-month period carcass surveyors recovered 183 birds from Ivanpah’s fields of mirrored heliostats.

        Smallwood pointed out that since many of the birds recovered were small; warblers, hummingbirds, and the like. If the prevalence of small species was representative of all birds killed at Ivanpah and not just the ones surveyors found, local scavengers such as ravens and kit foxes would likely have been able to remove many of the carcasses before they could be recovered.”

        http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/commentary/dispute-over-ivanpah-bird-kill-numbers-based-on-misunderstanding-of-science.html

        Smallwood has been making a name for himself by testifying that actual kill rates at renewable sites are likely many multiples of what other biologists report.

        If one reads the bird death research they will see that one of the early researched topics was how to establish as accurate as possible count. Biologists studied the number of birds carried away by predators and the kill range that needs to be covered.

        Smallwood was actually one of the biologists that participated and published mortality rate studies. Then, later, he got on a tear and started presenting his ‘estimates’, taking the study numbers and multiplying them. As far as I can tell he has produced zero data validating his multiplication. It’s all assumptions.

        A simple field study would be all that is necessary to prove his claims. Just go replicate earlier field counts but add nighttime predator monitoring and see if the first several technological papers got it wrong.

        Science isn’t based on seat of the pants estimates.

  • bussdriver78

    CATS SERVE NO PURPOSE. This BS should be a non starter! Kill off more animals than anything in like a million years just so we can keep our cats? It’s not even a choice between the two but somehow I think people would destroy the world before give up their cats.

    • Cat Lover

      Have you lost your mind?? There is nothing in the article that says we should, “Kill off more animals than anything in …like… a million years just so we can keep our cats?” Go back to school so you can …like… learn to understand what you are reading.

      • Doug Cutler

        “Kill off more animals than anything in like a million years just so we can keep our cats?”

        I’m not certain but I think the writer is referring to ecological devastation that will and is occurring from the effects of global warming. One interpretation of the convoluted argument would go like this:

        If people stopped keeping cats or at least kept their house cats indoors we could save hundreds of millions of birds (which is true) more than offsetting the bird loses from Ivanpah thereby making it more rational to build more solar thermal plants thereby offsetting even more fossil fuel generation thereby helping save the world from the mass wildlife die offs resulting from global warming.

  • Rob G

    Here in Australia the Murdoch paper, the Australian, published the bird story as an absolute solar disaster they also wrote of past environmental harm solar had caused. The total omission of the kinds of harm oil had caused wildlife was very obvious. Remember, this is the paper that also recently published an article about the earth cooling – basically more climate change denial. Many readers will know Murdoch well, as the owner of the FOX network. He is we’ll known for using his media muscle to fool Australian voters into electing a government full of climate change skeptics.

    • Matt

      If you are very rich you should get to pick the government. Just ask the US supreme court.

      • Rob G

        We share the same problem on that one, our government is very similar to the Tea party. But will there ever be a french revolution moment where the people took charge back. It didn’t end well for the rich guys (Louie and Co) back then.

  • http://barnardonwind.wordpress.com/ Mike Barnard

    Concerns about wind energy and birds are vastly overstated too. Wind farms kill about one in 86,000 birds in the USA annually. Altamont Pass is the only real concern area because of a trifecta of the wrong site, the wrong tech and bad turbine placement. It’s being fixed by intelligent repowering with modern turbines.

    How significant is bird and bat mortality due to wind turbines? | barnard on wind
    http://barnardonwind.com/2013/02/15/how-significant-is-bird-and-bat-mortality-due-to-wind-turbines/

  • Marion Meads

    Rather than media overhyping this, think of a simple cost effective
    solution. Fortunately, the solution is simple. Google should have
    consulted an ecologist, or even a sustainable organic farmer like me for
    free! This problem is very inexpensive to solve. Just scare off the
    birds from the facility, from ever going near it. One way is to use red
    orange lights which can be done by installing a few mirrors with red
    orange reflective filters and make it move back and forth, powered by
    the sun. another is to use efficient LED’s on the red orange wavelength.
    still the cheapest one that simulate fields on fire are to use the red
    and chrome bird scare tapes hung around the facility and the middle of
    the tower. Arrange it so that there is an illusion of fire. This is very
    effective for protecting bird damages when we hung bird scare tapes.
    Other tactics are to use sounds of predators attacking their prey.
    There are many inexpensive options out there to scare birds away from
    facility, and obviously scare crow is obsolete. Perhaps, just attaching a
    small prismatic red-orange reflective tape in the mirrors would be
    enough to simulate a fields of fire visual effects to scare the birds.

    The fields of fire effect will be perfect for birds to shift their
    course of migration to avoid the fires as they do naturally. Have you
    seen migratory birds fly into the forest fires because it is in their
    path of migration? As a farmer we have observed how birds avoid our
    fields of fire (installed red reflective bird scare tapes for example).
    And the best part is that the fields of fire effect can be seen from
    afar by the birds, so they are able to shift their course to go around
    the facility. And at night, it is no problem, as there will be no sun to
    scorch them. It is a very worthy solution. And if you look at the pic
    of the Ivanhoe’s reflections, a strip of red orange prismatic tape on
    each mirror, it should generate a red orange wavelength that birds are
    sensitive to and they will avoid flying over the facility. It is just
    almost perfect inexpensive solution.

    • Doug Cutler

      Brilliant. I’ve speculated before about using small programmed drones to chase off soaring birds but I always suspected a good biologist would have a simpler and more practical solution.

      Next time someone suggests we should build nuclear instead of solar thermal because of the birds we’ll just tell them thanks for their sincere concern for wildlife and to lobby for this instead.

    • Matt

      Marion forward you comment on over to Ivanpah,maybe they will jump on the idea. Idea that are know in one field are often a complete surprise to people in a unrelated field.

      • http://muckrack.com/dotcommodity Susan Kraemer

        Actually, they already have researched using bird deterrent technologies like predator call recordings that scare them away. They can begin as soon as the CEC permits it, They have to go through a Technical Advisory Committee first to decide which technology to test.

        http://social.csptoday.com/technology/how-protect-birds-csp-towers

    • http://muckrack.com/dotcommodity Susan Kraemer

      I researched bird deterrents in writing about what Ivanpah is doing to cut their actual death rate (321 over 6 months.), but the red orange sounds very interesting, and not one that they are aware of.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Where’s your article, Susan?

    • Brian

      Awesome! How amazingly simple.

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