BirdLife South Africa was privileged to spend some time at Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants in the Northern Cape recently. These futuristic looking facilities are the face of modern, clean energy; they can store power and release it into the grid when we need it the most (which is often when the sun is not shining). However, there have been reports from the United States that CSP facilities can have negative effects on birds. BirdLife South Africa and the Percy FitzPatrick Institute at the University of Cape Town have teamed up to look into the issue.
Corey Jean, a student from the FitzPatrick Institute, will be spending the next three months studying birds at ACWA Power’s Bokpoort CSP facility. Sam Ralston-Paton (BirdLife South Africa), Prof. Peter Ryan and Vonica Perold (both from UCT) spent a few days on site to help Corey with some of his surveys.
Next up they were joined by Hanneline Smit-Robinson (BirdLife South Africa) and visited Abengoa’s Khi One CSP tower facility (this uses different technology to Bokpoort).We are pleased to report that Abengoa has responded to BirdLife South Africa’s recommendations and have voluntarily begun to monitor impacts on birds in a structured and scientifically rigorous manner.
We are looking forward to the results of both projects – they should provide much-needed data that will help us understand and minimise any negative effects associated with the technologies.A big thank-you to ACWA Power and Abengoa for their hospitality, openness, and willingness to work with us to find answers.