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Federally subsidized solar-energy firm builds giant bird-incinerator in the Nevada desert

March 6, 2015

My latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

Avian Death Star: Birds, be very afraid

“Unfortunately, about two hours into the test, engineers and biologists on site started noticing “streamers” – trails of smoke and steam caused by birds flying directly into the field of solar radiation. What moisture was on them instantly vaporized, and some instantly burst into flames – at least, until they began to frantically flap away. An estimated 130 birds were injured or killed during the test.


“The plant in question, which was expected to come at least partially online [in March], runs on 17,500 heliostat mirrors – each the size of your average garage door – that concentrate and reflect thermal solar energy at a tall center tower. This tower uniquely contains molten salt, of all things, which is circulated to produce steam and generate electricity. Excess heat is stored in the salt and can be used to generate power for up to 10 hours, including during the evening hours and when direct sunlight is not available.


“Unfortunately, the redirected sunlight causes such a wide sphere of superheated radiation that the plant sees one streamer every two minutes, according to investigator estimates.

“Officials behind the project have refuted that claim, saying that most of the streamers are floating trash or wayward insects, but federal wildlife officials have begun calling these ‘eco-friendly’ power towers ‘mega traps’ for wildlife.”

Interestingly, the developer of the project, SolarReserve, is one of nine corporations that, according to the Washington Free Beacon have donated to a green nonprofit called the Clean Energy Project, set up in 2008 and run by former staffers of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

The Nevada Democrat persuaded the Department of Energy to expedite permit approval for several of the donors, including SolarReserve, for projects in his home state, according to the Beacon. Reid “pushed DOE in 2010 to speed approval of a $737 million loan guarantee for the company’s Nevada manufacturing facility,” Beacon reporter Lachlan Markey writes. SolarReserve started construction on the Crescent Dunes project in 2011.

Posted by Charlotte Allen


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One Comment
  1. US Fish and Wildlife among other entities has encouraged solar and wind power for years. Now that birds are dying, they are against it. Why didn’t they think it through when they bullied the utilities to go with solar and wind?

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