by John Merline • Investor’s Business Daily
President Obama once praised it as a shining example of America’s clean energy future. “With projects like this one,” he said at the site of a solar plant just before construction started, “we’re putting Americans to work producing clean, home-grown American energy.”
And his Department of Energy showered $1.6 billion in loan guarantees, as well as $600 million in tax credits.
The plant is the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, a behemoth that uses hundreds of thousands of mirrors spread out over more than five square miles of the Mojave Desert. The mirrors all aim at the tops of three 459-foot towers, where the heat boils water in tanks held there, which generates steam to turn the electricity-producing turbines.
But it turns out that Ivanpah isn’t so squeaky clean after all.
According to the Press Enterprise in Riverside, Calif. , Ivanpah emits enough CO2 that it will “be required to participate in the state’s cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions.”
In its first year, Ivanpah emitted 46,000 metric tons of CO2. That’s about as much as a Frito Lay plant in Bakersfield emits.
How is that possible? It turns out that the Ivanpah plant uses natural gas to function.
First, it burns natural gas to pre-heat the water at the top of the three towers before the sun comes up. Then, the Press Enterprise explains, it “has auxiliary gas boilers that kick in whenever cloud cover blocks the sun.”
Ivanpah also has a nasty habit of cooking birds that happen to fly too close to the towers — 3,500 of them in its first year, according to the Desert Sun.
Somehow these bird deaths don’t seem to upset environmentalists very much.