The world's largest solar plant is awesome—unless you're a bird like the one in this image published by the corporation BrightSource Energy. This bird flew over the plant and was killed by its deadly heat levels, which can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit (537C). Apparently, this was expected.
The Wall Street Journal and a Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System monthly compliance report (PDF) already pointed out that this was going to be one of the side-effects of the $2.2 billion 5-square-mile solar farm and its three 40-story-high towers southwest of Las Vegas.
When its 350,000 mirrors converge on the water boilers sitting atop the towers, they effectively turn into a gigantic death ray. Anything that goes through the concentrated light beams will be killed.
The California Energy Commission says that the loss of wildlife—and other severe environmental problems associated to it—is acceptable because "the benefits the project will provide override those impacts." According to them, the plant will be producing enough electricity to power 140,000 homes when running at maximum power with a reduced carbon footprint. Environmentalists claim that the benefits may not be that clear.
To add salt to the injury, biologists say that the birds may be confusing the sea of mirrors with a lake, which is attracting them to the deadly mirage.
The images of the birds come from a monthly compliance report. Eleven birds were found injured or dead during that period.