Emerging solar plants scorch birds in mid-air

Aug 18, 2014 by Ellen Knickmeyer

A new form of solar energy is having an unwanted side effect: It makes some birds ignite in midair.

California's is studying the issue of bird deaths at a new kind of solar plant that works with concentrated sun rays. The technology has proved unexpectedly deadly to birds at a new solar plant in the Mojave Desert. It's owned by Google and two California energy companies.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is urging the state to hold off on permitting another plant of the same kind. It wants more study of what it says is the significant number of birds igniting and falling as they fly above the plant.

BrightSource Energy and NRG Solar say they are studying methods of reducing bird deaths.

Explore further: Ivanpah solar plant in California starts energy feed to grid

4 /5 (4 votes)
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5 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2014
Probably need to add a webcam, some basic motion tracking and a laser pointer to scare birds off (as the issue only arises during perfect weather the technical challenge to get this working would be minimal, and the components are dirt cheap).
5 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2014
Some numbers would be nice. How many birds are there in the Mojave? How many are purportedly ignited. How (and by whom) is that determination made?

How hard is it to ignite a bird? Can this effect easily be reproduced in a lab, using carcasses? I guess without more information I'm a little skeptical.
not rated yet Aug 19, 2014
They 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. There are many inexpensive options out there to scare birds away from facility, and obviously scare crow is obsolete. Perhaps, just attaching a small strip of prismatic red-orange reflector on each mirror would create such visual effects of fire.