ReWire has reported a number of times on the controversy over possible threats to wildlife from solar power tower facilities that concentrate huge amounts of sunlight on a central boiler.
Now there's a new wrinkle: Solar power tower developer BrightSource Energy tested the effects of their concentrated solar on a number of dead birds as part of their studies of the proposed Hidden Hills solar facility in Inyo County, and the company has since refused to release the photos to the public because they're too inflammatory.
The story saw daylight yesterday in a report by David Danelski at the Riverside Press-Enterprise. Danelski, who'd dug through audio recordings of California Energy Commission (CEC) hearings on the Hidden Hills project near Tecopa, noted that CEC officials recessed a public hearing on February 11 so that they could view photos of singed chickens, quail, and pigeons that had been hung near the power tower at a BrightSource facility in
The birds, which had been euthanized before the test, were exposed to varying levels of concentrated solar power to simulate the effects on live birds flying through the area of "solar flux" near an operating power tower. BrightSource reported that only the highest levels of flux tested resulted in heat damage to feathers. Written descriptions of the damage were provided to CEC staff and intervenors in the Hidden Hills case, but according to Danelski BrightSource balked when the CEC asked to view photographic documentation of the bird carcasses after exposure to the solar flux.