EDITORIAL: It’s a dead birds’ party at Ivanpah solar plant


Many people think green energy is for the birds. In the case of the monstrous Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, it’s not even good for our fine feathered friends. In fact, it’s downright deadly.

K Kaufmann, a reporter for the Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., cited a U.S. Fish &Wild Service report earlier this month that labeled BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah plant a “mega-trap” for birds and insects. Some birds literally burst into flames and are burned to death while flying through the intense solar radiation reflecting off thousands of mirrors at the plant in San Bernardino County, Calif., about 40 miles southwest of Las Vegas.

The birds are apparently attracted by solar flux, which Ms. Kaufmann described as the intense radiation coming off the mirrors, creating what appear to be small clouds around the boilers at the top of the project’s three 459-foot-tall solar towers. Ivanpah employees and Fish &Wildlife Office of Law Enforcement officials observed the problem for three days last October, and in their report — bureaucratically titled “Avian Mortality at Solar Energy Facilities in Southern California” — stated that “OLE staff observed birds entering the solar flux and igniting, consequently becoming a streamer. OLE staff observed an average of one streamer event every two minutes.”

And it’s not just solar plants — there are three huges ones in Southern California alone — causing these issues. Wind farms are far worse, killing a whopping 573,000 birds in 2012 and annually killing dozens of federally protected eagles, according to a Bloomberg News report.

The irony is that environmentalists, the same people pushing these green-energy projects, are the ones fuming most over all this carnage.

Furthermore, green energy remains extremely expensive, particularly for taxpayers, and delivers a ridiculously small amount of energy for that expense. The Ivanpah plant cost $2.2 billion, propped up by $1.6 billion in federal loan guarantees.

So as it turns out, these projects are neither eco-friendly nor economically friendly. It’s time for government to get out of the business of massively subsidizing green energy, and let the private sector — and private money — lead the way with processes such as fracking that are continually getting safer and absolutely more cost-efficient for consumers. Not to mention better for the birds.

 

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