Emerging solar plants scorch birds in mid-air

August 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

Related Stories

Ivanpah solar plant in California starts energy feed to grid

September 27, 2013

The world's largest solar thermal plant began to feed energy into the power grid on Tuesday, considered a solar energy milestone, in a project scheduled to be fully operational by the end of the year. The system delivered ...

Video: Forecasting desert storms to empower solar panels

May 9, 2014

Solar energy is ever more becoming an important source of renewable power generation. A serious problem for the productivity of solar power plants is desert dust: it obscures the sun and makes the mirrors dirty. To prevent ...

Huge US thermal plant opens as industry grows (Update 2)

February 13, 2014

A windy stretch of the Mojave Desert once roamed by tortoises and coyotes has been transformed by hundreds of thousands of mirrors into the largest solar power plant of its type in the world, a milestone for a growing industry ...

Solar loan guarantees announced

June 30, 2011

(AP) -- The Department of Energy has announced nearly $4.5 billion in conditional commitments for loan guarantees for three California solar projects, the agency said.

Recommended for you

When more women make decisions, the environment wins

March 21, 2019

When more women are involved in group decisions about land management, the group conserves more—particularly when offered financial incentives to do so, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study published ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

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.
Oct 09, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
1 / 5 (1) Oct 09, 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?
I cant imagine it would compare to this

"Between 365 and 988 million birds die from crashing into windows in the United States each year, according to a new report. That may be as much as 10 percent of the estimated total bird population of the country.

"The estimate puts windows behind only cats as the largest source of human-related menaces that kill birds directly.

"The biggest share of the collision deaths comes not from glass massacres at skyscrapers but from occasional collisions with the nation's many small buildings, says Scott Loss of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. "It's death by a million nicks."

-Perhaps it could be used to selectively kill invasive birds like starlings. And pigeons.
1 / 5 (1) Oct 09, 2014
If you have money to burn this is the ultimate clean energy investment! If you put up $400,000 yourself or in a syndicate we guarantee you 1% royalties on a trillion dollar product! In a contract, in writing!

Just in case anyone was inclined to take this seriously.

This "corporation" Vulvox has only one employer, its "president" Neil Farbstein. Farbstain has never researched anything, other than how to con people out of money.

Not only is Farbstein a criminal, he is a particularly obnoxious character. Here is an example of this disgusting paedophile in a post from today on a physorg affiliated site:
not rated yet Oct 12, 2014
Perhaps it could be used to selectively kill invasive birds like starlings. And pigeons.

Maybe we can kend you one of ours: http://en.wikiped...er%C5%AB . At 650g they can break windows.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.