Analyzing Bird Use of Photovoltaic Installations at US Airports

by Jincy Varughese

Recently, multiple airports in the US have installed photovoltaic (PV) solar energy systems in large areas of undeveloped grasslands commonly found on their grounds. The potential environmental and economic benefits have been well documented but to date there has been no research on the effect such systems will have on birds. DeVault and a team of researchers from the US Department of Agriculture and Mississippi State University begin filling this knowledge gap by comparing bird use of PV arrays to that of nearby airport grasslands. Continue reading

BrightSource’s Ivanpah CPS Bird Fatalities Controversy

by Mariah Valerie Barber

In February 2014, nearly a year ago, BrightSource Energy, Inc.’s Ivanpah concentrating social power (CSP) plant officially opened in Southern California’s Mojave Desert, after four years of construction. The Ivanpah power plant uses heliostat, software controlled mirror technology to concentrate the sun’s solar rays and direct them to a water tower. The concentrated sunlight is then reflected onto boilers that create steam which is used to generate power by utilizing a turbine (http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/how-it-works#.VMgGAHDF8lQ). Ivanpah is currently the world’s largest concentrated solar plant, occupying around five square miles, with 173,500 large “garage-door” sized heliostat mirrors directed to central power towers. BrightSource developed Ivanpah and is now partially owned by Google and NRG Energy. Currently Ivanpah is working towards reaching its full energy producing capacity. Once Ivanpah is operating at full capacity it will be able to generate 140,000 homes annually. Continue reading