The Endangerment Of Birds: The Impacts Of Solar Energy

2545 Words 11 Pages
One of the main concerns surrounding solar energy is the endangerment of birds that pass over these solar farms. These birds, including threatened and endangered species, often mistake the reflective solar facilities for a body of water, a phenomenon known as the “lake effect.” Honing in on these water bodies, many birds have been fatally singed or crippled due to these desert solar power plants (Upton, 2014). These plants produce a solar flux that is the sum of the focused rays of light delivered by the mirror array. If the birds are not directly killed due to exposure to solar flux, many lose their ability to fly and eventually starve or become prey. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is currently the biggest facility of its kind …show more content…
The NRG Energy Inc., which co-owns the Ivanpah solar project, stated that there were 321 avian fatalities during the first half of 2014, 133 of which were scorched by heat produced by the plant. It is estimated that cats kill hundreds of millions of birds each year, and cars are responsible for another 60 million deaths according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Goossens, 2014). One study in Wisconsin showed that domestic rural cats alone killed 39 million birds per year (Kaufman, 2011). Communication towers account for four to five million bird deaths, and wind turbines were responsible for 573,000 deaths in 2012. The government estimates that anywhere from 97 million to 976 million birds die each year from striking against building windows (Kaufman, 2011). Estimates for bird deaths by solar power plants range from a low of about a thousand to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group (Knickmeyer & Locher, 2014). The planned solar plant in Riverside is predicted to kill 28,000 birds that fly through the beams of concentrated sunlight at the site. Although many ethical concerns are being raised about these solar plants contributing to avian mortality, the number of birds dying at these plants pales in comparison to other leading …show more content…
Solar panels are producing millions of pounds of polluted sludge and contaminated water (AP, 2013). Toxic sludge is produced when metals and other toxins are removed from water. The contaminated water is sent to be stored at an approved dump if the company does not have its own treatment equipment. Solar may be a less polluting energy source than coal or natural gas, but the waste from solar plants are transported to waste facilities hundreds of miles away, and the fossil fuels used to transport these materials are usually not accounted for in solar’s carbon footprint. San Jose State University environmental studies professor Dustin Mulvaney says transporting 6.2 million pounds of waste from Fremont, CA to the San Francisco Bay area could add 5% to a product’s carbon footprint. New companies are more likely to send hazardous waste out of their plants because they have not invested in on-site treatment equipment. State records show that 17 companies, comprising of 44 manufacturing facilities in California, produced 46.5 million pounds of sludge and contaminated water from 2007 to the first half of 2011. More than 1.4 million pounds were transported to other states, including Arkansas, Washington, and Rhode Island (AP, 2013).
Solar firms need to address the production of panels to ensure they are manufactured without leaking waste and provide a method for disposal of these panel to avoid contamination

Related Documents