The developers of a near-800-ft tall solar power tower in Israel plan to spray vaporised grape skin extract – a mild irritant – and emit sounds of natural predators near the tower to stop wild birds from flying into it.
The tower, being built by Israel-based Megalim Solar Power – whose shareholders include General Electric – in the country’s vast southern desert will be taller than other solar towers, enabling it to generate up to 121 megawatts of power.
Due to be completed next year at a cost of $770 million, the facility will provide around 1% of Israel’s electricity under an agreement with the Israeli government, which aims for 10% of the country’s energy needs to be provided by renewables by 2020.
Most solar power in the world is generated by photovoltaic (PV) panels, which can be installed anywhere from a roof to a backyard. In contrast, towers that use concentrated solar power, known as CSP, require a lot of land and are only cost-efficient in large-scale projects.
For that reason they have seen limited deployment, and mainly in the United States and Europe.
Megalim’s tower in Israel will generate heat of up to 540 degrees Celsius (1,000 Fahrenheit), producing steam to drive a turbine. It will not be able to store energy but has overcome another problem that beset solar towers – whether or not power towers were killing large numbers of wild birds.
When Brightsource built a three-tower facility in Ivanpah, California in 2013 with local partners, some experts said heat from its mirrors would incinerate tens of thousands of birds each year. A public outcry about the issue was in part responsible for Brightsource cancelling plans to build another tower complex in California.
An official report, based on findings by biologists and teams of dogs that combed the Ivanpah facility, documenting and categorizing every bird death, has since shown the impact to be’ low.’