2015: Solar Power’s Shadow Costs
Concentrating solar power (CSP) systems use massive mirrors to focus sunlight, amplifying the sun’s rays for renewable energy—but potential ecosystem costs, including bird deaths and heavy water use, are raising public concern. Another unknown is how important insects are affected. The researchers will measure impacts on plant-pollinating bees at the world’s largest CSP facility, the Ivanpah plant in California’s Mojave Desert, a global bee hotspot. Measuring insect biodiversity in the power plant zone will inform their broader economic and environmental cost-benefit analysis and allow for accurate comparison between the Ivanpah facility and other energy plants.