Last week we mentioned that the Ivanpah solar facility had gone online in California and was now creating 392 megawatts of electricity. We also mentioned that while the facility had just gone live that it was already outdated and the firms behind the plant were already considering upgrades to the facility.
The massive arrays of mirrors around the facility direct intense heat at the tower that holds water turning the water into superheated steam. Those mirrors are also creating a hazardous side effect. The intense heat near those towers is roasting birds in an instant.
The heat around the towers where the mirror arrays focus sunlight reaches around 1000-degrees Fahrenheit. The company operating the plant has announced that dozens of birds have been found dead at the facility over the last several months. The fact that the plant was killing birds was known during testing.
Some federal biologists have said that the dead birds found at the facility appear to have singed or burned feathers. The birds don’t have to land on the tower; simply flying through the heat near the tower is enough to kill them. Regulators said that they expected some birds would be killed at the plant, but didn’t expect so many to be killed during testing. State and federal regulators are overseeing a 2-year study on the effect the facility has on birds. The operators of the facility are trying to figure out how to minimize the effects of the plant on birds in the area.