Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System Opening Ceremony
February 12, 2014 - Eastern San Bernardino County, CA - Agencies confirmed that the three power tower concentrating solar thermal plant have a grand opening ceremony this Thursday in the desert near the Nevada border. Interior Secretary Ernest Moniz will apparently be there. The ceremony is not open to the public. The project has been delayed due to engineering problems with such a massive new power plant, but may soon officially connect with the grid and go online after much testing.
See the Department of Energy's blog: http://energy.gov/articles/celebrating-completion-worlds-largest-concentrating-solar-power-plant
Bird Mortality Reports
^Unit 1 being tested last week in Ivanpah Valley, showing the visible solar flux glow around the tower as mirrors aim bounced sunlight onto the target. The flux energy extends 2,000 feet out from the tower at decreasing strength.
October 1, 2013 - Numerous birds are being found dead or injured at the large-scale Ivanpah solar power tower project as it continues testing during the construction phase.
The California Energy Commission released compliance reports detailing the finds.
A Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) was found injured on August 13, 2013 along Collosseum Road that goes through the project. The report says: "The swallow was found to be bright and alert, with normal posture but unable to fly. Eyes and beak appeared normal. There was marked curling, melting, and charring evident on the feathers of the wings, back, and tail. Substantial portions of the feather barbs were absent, apparently burned away. Both wings appeared equally affected, with the primary, secondary, and covert feathers showing the most evidence of damage. Covert feathers covering the back had evidence of minor curling and melting. Covert feathers covering the head, breast and ventrum were not obviously affected. The bird was able to fold its wings in a somewhat normal manner, and stand without difficulty. There was no evidence of ectoparasites, mechanical trauma, or chemical burns or residue. Damage to feathers was most consistent with thermal or electrical burns. The closest sources of extreme heat where the bird was found are the flood lights and generators located by the guard shack. There were also utility lines near its location. No flux has been produced in Unit 2 since May 14th and Unit 1 since July 17th. Flux in Unit 3 has occurred daily since August 5th and at various times during each day."
The description is more consistent with the damage a bird would suffer when it flies through the intense solar flux surrounding a power tower, and this bird may have flown through Unit 3 during testing, only landing some distance away. This had been predicted by experts during the CEC evidentiary hearing for the Hidden Hills solar power tower project.
^Northern rough-winged swallow with feather burns.
Other birds found dead on the project site include such varied species as Greater Roadrunner (three different birds, one heliostat strike) and waterbirds such as Eared Grebe and American Coot (3, one from heliostat strike). Raptors found dead were a Cooper's Hawk and a Peregrine falcon (one juvenile with melted feathers on September 6, 2013). The other birds include many small songbirds which were either migrating through the desert or resident in the region: a Mourning dove (scorched, melted feathers), Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, Lesser Nighthawk (4, one heliostat strike), Common poorwill, White-Throated Swift (heliostat strike), Western wood-pewee, Ash-throated flycatcher, Blue-gray gnatcatcher (2, one with scorched, melted feathers), Common raven (electrocution), Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Wilson's warbler (2, one scorched, melted feathers and one tower strike), MacGillivray's warbler (scorched, melted feathers), Common yellowthroat, Black-throated gray warbler (scorched, melted feathers), Cassin's vireo (scorched, melted feathers), Loggerhead Shrike (4), Western Tanager (4, one heliostat strike), Horned Lark (heliostat strike), Northern mockingbird, Black-Throated Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow (heliostat strike), Chipping Sparrow (2, one with scorched, melted feathers), White-Crowned Sparrow, Black-throated sparrow (2, both heliostat strikes), Brewer's Sparrow, Green-Tailed Towhee, Lazuli bunting, Pine Siskin, House finch (scorched, melted feathers), and Brown-headed cowbird. Four unknown bird species were also picked up. The dates include November 27, 2011 through September 19, 2013.