Proponents of solar panel energy technology are in for quite the shock: the very technology they claim is ethical and environmentally friendly is responsible for the deaths of up to 28,000 birds per year.
The issue was discovered by federal wildlife investigators who toured the BrightSource Energy plant last year. While there, they found that birds were burning and falling because of the solar panel technology. The plant, which began energy production in February, is estimated to be worth $2.2 billion.
The plant boasts 300,000 plus mirrors. Each mirror is roughly the size of a garage door. The mirrors reflect solar rays onto three boiler towers that are positioned 40 floors up. Steam is created from the water and then electricity is produced. BrightSource Energy makes enough electricity to power 140,000 homes.
The bright light emitted from the plant could potentially be responsible for the birds’ death. Birds are drawn to the vivid light and are then burned to death. Wildlife officials investigating the plant described their findings, reporting that they found birds "entering the solar flux and igniting…"
Renewable-energy director for the California chapter of the Audubon Society called the deaths "alarming" and warned that the plant needs to use "some caution."
Federal wildlife investigators are calling on California officials to cease their plans to create a new, larger solar panel plant similar to the current one. A commission warned that the new proposed plant will be nearly four times as harmful to the birds as the current solar panel plant.