The $2.2 billion Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is a concentrated solar thermal plant in the California Mojave Desert. The Ivanpah solar facility generates 377-392 megawatts (enough to power 140,000 homes) and spreads across 3,600 acres killed over 3,500 birds in its first year, according to a new report.
From 29 October 2013 to 20 October 2014 at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System facility:
- Avian detections at the site included 83 different bird species with 64 having fewer than 10 detections.
- Of the remaining 19 species, all have populations that are great enough locally (either as breeders, wintering birds, or migrants), regionally, and nationally that the magnitude of mortality detected and/or estimated at Ivanpah during the first four seasons of monitoring would have a minimal impact on populations at any of these geographic scales.
- The cause of death for 42.2 percent of the detections of species with 10 or more detections was unknown and thus cannot be determined with certainty to have been “facility-caused”, the standard cited in Section 5.3 of the Plan.
The report‘s recommendations concerning monitoring and/or adaptive management at Ivanpah include:
- Continuation of Plan implementation as it was performed during year 1 monitoring.
- Continue with and increase the number of searcher efficiency and carcass persistence trials to enable more refined estimates by season and/or within project elements.
- Continuation of the adaptive management process to investigate means of reducing avian mortality.
- Full implementation of bat deterrence at all three solar units.
In comparison, a new coal-fired power plant that generates enough electricity to power as many homes as Ivanpah, costs $1.1 billion. At double the cost, solar power is still too expensive.