California Solar Plant Is Responsible For Killing Thousands Of Birds Each Year, Shows The Dark Side Of Clean Energy

California Solar Plant Is Responsible For Killing Thousands Of Birds Each Year, Shows The Dark Side Of Clean Energy

The Ivanpah Solar Plant, a solar plant in California, has inadvertently become a dead zone for birds flying overhead, claims a report by the LA Times. Since 2014, up to 6,000 birds per year have died by exploding into flames simply due to them flying in the path between the solar panels and the sun. The California solar plant has become a makeshift death ray. Realizing that this a major environmental issue, researchers have been able to stop the deaths of the birds. David Knox, a spokesperson for the solar plant, spoke to the LA Times on the problem.

“We’re doing everything we can to reduce the number of birds killed out here. If there’s a silver bullet out there, maybe we’ll find it.”

One of the theories that have been discussed as to why the birds fly into the path of the sunlight harvested at the Ivanpah Solar Plant is due to the birds looking for food by flying after bugs and insects. The tactic that workers at Ivanpah have implemented to lower the amount of insects in the area is to use LED bulbs in place of flood lights. The LED bulbs attract a lesser amount of insects. If there are fewer insects then there will be fewer birds, lowering the number of birds incinerated.

Another remedy that has been tried is to use devices that spew forth a chemical that is designed to irritate the airways of the birds in the area. The irritant is not lethal and comes from concentrated grape juice. Knox commented on the different solutions that have been tried.

“We know these deterrents are effective in general commercial use. Are they as effective in a solar energy plant? We’re trying to figure that out.”

Stories in which inadvertent death rays have been created are rare but not unheard of. One of the most popular stories of this nature comes from London. Known as the Walkie Talkie, a building in London was discovered to harness the rays of the sun and reflect them back with such force that the rays can melt the automobiles around the building. Chris Shepherd, from the Institute of Physics, spoke to the BBC and explained the phenomenon of the Walkie Talkie building.

“Fundamentally it’s reflection. If a building creates enough of a curve with a series of flat windows, which act like mirrors, the reflections all converge at one point, focusing and concentrating the light.”

Another similar instance came back in 2003 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California. The building’s architect, Frank Gehry, spoke about the issue that his building had.

“The building was clad from head to toe, right down to the pavement, in stainless steel panels, and they would send the sun dazzling across the sidewalks to hotspots where people were. It was measured up to 60C (140F). Local people living there complained they were having to crank their air conditioning up to maximum to cool things down.”

The quest for an energy source that will not run out, and is considered to be clean, has been the goal of environmentalists for decades. As each year goes by, the technology improves that makes obtaining clean energy easier. Is there ever an acceptable number of losses to wildlife that people can deal with while in the pursuit of cleaner energy methods?

[Featured Image By Chris Carlson/AP Photo, File]