by Chris Clarke
on November 18, 2013 2:00 PM
An interesting comment on the wildlife impacts of concentrating solar technology comes to us via ReWire reader Brandon Hill in Fresno County, in the form of a local news report from two years back on a BrightSource Energy project in Coalinga.
Unlike BrightSource's much larger Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System now nearing completion in the Mojave Desert, the Coalinga project --- built in partnership with the oil company Chevron -- doesn't generate electricity. Both the Coalinga and Ivanpah projects focus sunlight on a boiler with fields of mirrored heliostats, but where the Ivanpah plant will use that steam to drive electrical generating turbines, the Coalinga plant injects the steam into Chevron's Coalinga oil wells to make it easier to pump the heavy crude out of the ground.
When a school group went on a guided tour of the plant in Fresno County soon after the plant opened in late 2011, reporter Gene Haagenson tagged along to cover the event for local ABC affiliate KFSN. Haagenson caught a very interesting, notably frank exchange between a fifth-grade student and the Chevron engineer leading the tour.