Birds ignite as they fly over Ivanpah solar plant

18 Aug 2014

The mirrors at BrightSource Energy's Ivanpah solar plant cover 1,416 hectares

Birds flying through solar rays beamed upward from a US$2.2bn solar plant’s 300,000 mirrors in the Mojave Desert in the US are being scorched to death.

Federal wildlife investigators visited BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah plant at Ivanpah Dry Lake near the California-Nevada border last year and watched as birds burned and fell. They reported an average of one every two minutes, CBC News reported.

Bird carcasses have been retrieved that show feathers too severely charred for flight.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now urging California officials to stop the operator’s application to build another larger plant until the full extent of the bird deaths can be determined.

The Ivanpah plant, which is owned by internet search giant Google, BrightSource Energy and NRG Energy, generates solar energy via the mirrors, each the size of a garage door.

The mirrors collect and reflect the sun’s rays toward three boiler towers, heating the water inside them. The heat produces steam which then turns turbines that generate electricity

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic