Features Sunday, September 07, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute | August 25, 2014 | 05:39 pm IST The Ivanpah solar  plant in California's Mojave desert uses over 300,000 mirrors, 'each the size of a garage door', to convert sunlight into electricity.  However, the plant has recently come under controversy after it was alleged that the reflection of light from the mirrors are so strong that it burns birds instantly  that fly over them.  According to a report in NBC News, the operators of the power plant want to build a bigger version of the unit and federal wildlife investigators have asked authorities to put a cap on all such plans till the problem and the extent of it is further examined. One of the theories could be that he bright light from the plant attracts insects towards it, which in turn attracts insect eating birds to the site.  The $2.2 billion plant, which was launched in February, uses the sun's energy to convert water in the three boiler towers into steam, which in turn is used to generate electricity through turbines. The report also states that the plant generates 'enough electricity for 140,000 homes'. Because the birds catch fire and results in smoke mid air, they are often called 'streamers'.  The estimate of deaths per year can be anywhere between less than a thousand birds- according to BrightSource Energy, one of the owners of the plant- to as high as 28,000- estimates 'by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group-, reports Associated Press .  BrightSource has also offered '$1.8 million in compensation for anticipated bird deaths at Palen', said Joseph Desmond, senior vice president at BrightSource Energy, to Associated Press. The company also suggested spending on spaying and neutering of domestic cats that, according to a government study, killed 1.4 billion birds every year. However, 'opponents say that would do nothing to help the desert birds at the proposed site', further states the report. A Global News report states 'A total of 141 dead birds were collected by officials over one year and five months, which included the construction phase. Of those, 47 died due to solar flux injury. The birds’ feathers were curled, charred, melted or broken'. Many birds also crash with the mirrors, since the mirrors reflect the blue sky and the creatures may mistake those for water, adds the report.  The Ivanpah solar power plant, however, is not new to controversy.  During its nascent stage, the plant came under scanner for the location it was situated in. It was being built in an area that was home to several desert species, including the threatened desert tortoise, and according to reports, wildlife officials and environmentalists were wary of the plant's impact on the creatures' habitat.
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