do solar farms kill birds

Solar farms kill thousands of birds, but not as many as fossil fuel plants

  • Although the number of birds that perish as a result of solar energy production is much lower than that of fossil fuel production,
  • Researchers calculate that between 37,800 and 138,600 birds perish in the United S. from all solar energy sources produced each year, as opposed to the 14 5 million avian deaths attributed to fossil fuel power plants.
  • While some climate provisions are included in Biden’s infrastructure, it is not equivalent to the Green New Deal.

U. S. Rep. President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan drew criticism from Louie Gohmert, who claimed that it encouraged green energy that endangered birds.

Gohmert, R-Texas, went on the One America News channel on Aug. 11 to criticize the infrastructure bill and compared its green energy provisions to the Green New Deal:

The massive solar farm they have near the California-Nevada border is another component of that green deal. Countless acres of concave mirrors that reflect sunlight onto three towers, warm the liquid within, and drive turbines They had no idea that there would be hundreds of thousands of what they would refer to as “flamers” because, if the birds make it past the windmills, they will hit the sun’s magnified rays, burst into flames, and then descend with their guts all over the mirrors. So that takes some cleaning up. This is the green stuff that is completely out of control and will destroy the country.

This was the first time we heard a politician link bird deaths to solar energy, even though we have fact-checked numerous claims regarding bird deaths and wind turbines.

Gohmert was likely referencing a 2014 article that described what workers at a Southern California solar power plant called “streamers” (not “flamers”). The report about the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California, a power plant that uses mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays, said birds fly through its concentrated sun rays and ignite midair.

Thousands of birds have perished after passing over these solar power plants, but Gohmert’s claim ignores crucial background information.

“It is incorrect to identify only solar and wind energy as causing problems with bird mortality,” Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship President David Jenkins stated. “The estimated number of birds killed by electrocution, poisoning, and collisions caused by fossil fuel power plants actually outweighs the number of birds killed by solar and wind power.” “.

A 2016 study found that solar power plants cause 37,800 to 138,600 annual avian deaths in the U.S., compared with 14.5 million attributed to fossil fuel power plants. Another study attributed 365 million to 988 million avian deaths to collisions with buildings and windows.

Experts said that most solar energy generated in the U. S. originates from photovoltaic panels rather than concentrated solar power towers, such as the one at the Ivanpah plant, which caused the circumstances that led to these birds’ deaths.

do solar farms kill birds

do solar farms kill birds

do solar farms kill birds

“The United States currently has just two concentrated solar power tower projects. S. , and one of them just filed for bankruptcy “According to Robyn Shepherd, a spokesman for the nonprofit National Audubon Society, which is committed to sparrow conservation and bird habitat preservation

Gohmert is correct that thousands of birds perished at the Ivanpah plant, but he suggests that the House of Representatives shouldn’t approve Biden’s infrastructure bill because of the possibility of deaths from the “green stuff” provisions.

However, despite some negative effects, experts claim that renewable energy reduces climate change.

“Leroy Walston, a prominent environmental scientist at Argonne National Laboratory and author of the study estimating avian deaths from solar power, stated that all forms of human development have the potential to have an impact on the environment. Renewable energy development is no exception.

Gohmert’s office declined to respond to questions about his claim.

PolitiFact rated Gohmert’s comparison of the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the Green New Deal as mostly false during the broadcast. Compared to the Green New Deal, Biden’s plan is narrower in scope and does not include more expansive social objectives like universal health care and reasonably priced higher education.

The cost and climate provisions of Biden’s plan allocate $73 billion to modernize the nation’s electricity grid so it can carry more renewable energy, according to The New York Times.

Gohmert asserted that solar farms kill hundreds of thousands of “flamers.”

It has been observed that birds that are over concentrated solar power solar farms catch fire. However, most solar farms in the U. S. Employ photovoltaic panels instead; they haven’t been shown to kill birds in this way. Gohmert’s assertion is based on research that shows a notably higher number of birds perish annually from building collisions or the burning of fossil fuels.

We rate this claim Half True.

New York Times, Infrastructure Bill Includes $73 Billion for Electricity Grid, Aug. 2, 2021

CBS SF Bay Area, Birds Bursting Into Flames Above Solar Farm Stirs Calls To Slow Expansion, Aug. 18, 2014

A Twitter post

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Power Tower | Concentrating Solar Power Projects | NREL, accessed Aug. 16, 2021

The Dallas Morning News, Gohmert says birds are bursting in air as he blasts infrastructure bills renewable energy projects, Aug. 13, 2021

Email correspondence with Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship President David Jenkins, August 13, 2021.

Leroy Walston, an environmental scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, was interviewed via email on August 13, 2021.

Email correspondence with National Audubon Society spokesperson Robyn Shepherd, August 13, 2021.

Email interview with Rep. Louie Gohmert’s press office, Aug. 17, 2021.

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“Hundreds and thousands” of birds are “hit that magnified sun, explode in flame” as a result of solar panel farms. (This) is going to bring the nation down. ”.

do solar farms kill birds

In 2016, a first-of-its-kind study estimated that the hundreds of utility-scale solar farms around the US may kill nearly 140,000 birds annually. That’s less than one-tenth of one percent of the estimated number of birds killed by fossil-fuel power plants (through collisions, electrocution, and poisoning), but the researchers expected that number to nearly triple as planned solar farms come online. The link between solar facilities and bird deaths is still unclear. One leading theory suggests birds mistake the glare from solar panels for the surface of a lake and swoop in for a landing, with deadly results. “But that hypothesis is from a human perspective,” says Sporer. “Do birds even see the same way people do? We need to collect more data to form a complete picture.”

For the researchers who will eventually be tasked with coming up with ways to stop avian deaths at solar facilities, this data will be essential. It will assist them in comprehending how the local environment—such as the weather or time of day—affects bird behavior, or it might uncover additional factors that contribute to the deaths of feathered creatures. “It is very helpful to be able to watch birds interact with the site without having a human observer present,” says Sporer. Because of the glimpses into a world this technology gives us, we can operate in a way that has the least negative effects on wildlife. ”.

Hamada and her group are currently gathering training data from cameras positioned at two solar facilities located in Illinois. The pandemic has delayed the program’s rollout, which was originally intended to involve a few dozen government and commercial solar sites across the US. Argonne’s AI will initially only be trying to identify birds that cross its field of vision correctly, but Szymanski believes that eventually it will become advanced enough to distinguish between a few different bird behaviors, such as perching on or colliding with a solar panel. Most Popular.

As a member of the working group and the lead environmental scientist at Duke Energy, an electric utility in North Carolina, Misti Sporer notes that “there was very little research about the impacts of solar on birds.” Nobody really knew what it meant to find a dead bird. However, it was difficult to even find the data on bird deaths at solar facilities.

The Argonne team is utilizing commercial hardware created by Boulder AI, a company, to monitor both pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Boulder’s compact camera system is intended for edge computing, which is the umbrella term for data processing carried out locally as opposed to remotely at a data center. However, the Argonne team plans to mount it on a solar panel rather than affixing it to a streetlamp.


Why do farmers hate solar farms?

In addition, solar farms can interfere with farming and other land uses, be a danger to wildlife, and create a lot of heat – both in the daytime and at night. Solar farms are large installations that use panels to convert sunlight into electricity.

Do solar farms harm animals?

But unfortunately, large-scale energy facilities can negatively impact nearby wildlife without careful site selection and planning. These impacts on wildlife include: Loss of habitat: Construction of solar farms requires clearing land, thus destroying the animals’ natural habitat.

Do solar farms ruin farm land?

The short answer is it really won’t. Most solar panels, and all the solar panels Paradise Energy installs, are made from silicon. Silicon is the second-most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and plays a natural role in the growth of plants.

Can solar farms be wildlife friendly?

The good news for wildlife is that there are ways for solar developers to make installations less harmful and even beneficial for many species, like fences that let some animals pass, wildlife corridors, native plants that nurture pollinators, and more.