From the article of K. Kaufmann, The Desert Sun, Nov. 10, 2013
“A small bird, barely the size of a human hand, had its wings reduced to a web of charred spines. No longer able to keep aloft, the bird was found on the ground after it had flown through the intense heat of a solar thermal project soon to go online in the California desert.”
So how does this effect us? Too soon to tell. Solar thermal catches the rays of the sun in a massive tower where salts are heated to 500ºC driving generators 24/7. By inference they need to be built in very sunny areas like the Mojave Desert, parts of South and North Africa, southern Spain, southern Italy and parts of Greece and the Middle East. Now one or two Solar thermal farms, however large, are unlikely to devastate bird populations although the attrition may be morally unacceptable, but consider a vast expansion of this technology over the migration routes of many of the species that we are used to. Enough that some parts of southern Europe consider shooting songbirds sport. This could have a devastating effect and disturb the whole ecology of our island. Songbirds don’t just sound and look pretty. They serve many purposes from aiding pollination to keeping down the bugs and insects that feed on our crops. All renewable industries have a down side, The precautionary principle should loom large in our promotion of these technologies. However our political concerns as to Climate Change and man’s perceived impact on it has caused us to be blinded by the Green($ & £) rather than properly assess and consider the risks.
For Solar thermal, there are two basic concerns. Migratory birds will think it a lake and collide with the receptors and as the first quote says the concentration of the suns rays may simply fry any birds passing through. Both these scenarios are now proven fact. But as in wind farms, attrition to wildlife has become an accepted cost relying on the reason that climate change will kill more birds that the technologies of renewable energy. And that of course is the crux of the argument. Is Climate Changing and has man’s actions really been the cause. That climate changes is without dispute. Is the change exasperated by man’s behaviour. As someone who has ravelled the world it always amazes me how little man actually inhabits. In the UK our population is concentrated in the big cities but fly over the UK as I often do and you realise that even in a country as densely populated as the UK we are but a pinprick. We just think we are so important. Climate does change, whether effected by solar activity, geo-thermal or the oceans, ask a group of scientists from various areas of interest and certainly you will get little consensus. What we do know about Climate Change over the millenia is that man and nature adapts to it. Only the Politicians stand like Canute expecting to turn back the march of nature.