The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has reported that birds are dying at a rate of up to one bird every two minutes while flying over the world’s largest solar plant, Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS), in the Mojave Desert in California. ISEGS uses “power towers” to gather focuses solar ray beams to produce electricity.
The solar plant uses more than 300,000 mirrors to redirect the sun’s ray to heat water filled boilers that are on top of the 459 foot “power towers.” The heated water produces steam to turn turbines to generate electricity that powers 140,000 homes and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. When birds fly over the ISEGS, they are exposed to solar flux. The bird’s feathers can be singed impairing flying capability, ability to forage, and protect themselves from predators. The USFWS is requesting a yearlong study on ISEGS’s impact on avian population before allowing a future solar plant to be built near the Joshua Tree National park and the California-Arizona border.