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CRISPY DUCKS: SOLAR ARRAY TEST CREMATES 130 BIRDS IN ONE MORNING
Supporters of renewable energies hope that new advances in solar
technology will figuratively set the world on fire, but for hundreds of
birds in Nevada last month, that scenario became a literal reality.
Nearly 130 birds were set alight mid-flight during tests for the new 110 megawatt solar array plant in Tonopah, Nevada.
The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project uses 17,500 heliostat mirrors, each the size of a garage door,
to direct sunlight to a central tower rising 1,200 feet above ground
level. The combined energy is transferred to molten salt held in the
tower, which is circulated and produces steam to generate electricity.
Excess heat is stored in the salt, allowing electricity to be generated
for up to ten hours without sunlight...
On January 14th, about a third of the plant was brought online for
testing. Unfortunately, about two hours into the test biologists and
engineers on site began to notice “streamers” – trails of smoke and steam caused by birds flying into the field of solar radiation. Any moisture on the birds was instantly vapourised, whilst some of the birds themselves burst into flames even as they flapped away. Nearly 130 birds were killed or injured during the test...
Federal wildlife officials have begun referring to the solar arrays as “mega traps” for wildlife,
despite protestations by Ivanpah officials that the streamers are
floating rubbish or insects straying within the field. But biologists
believe the streamers are caused by a chain of reaction, as insects attracted by the tower’s bright light in turn attract bird species.