Solar energy vs wildlife

January 5, 2011

Sarah McBride reports on brewing battles between environmentalists in her special report: “With solar power, it’s Green vs. Green.”

It turns out the perfect place to build a big solar plant is often also the perfect place for a tortoise or a fox to live. This means developers of large-scale solar plants are running into legal challenges from people who one would expect to be natural allies of alternative energy providers.

Here’s a map of some of the more contentious projects.

One local resident of the Panoche Valley, Sallie Calhoun, had this to say:

“I am passionate about preserving open space,” she says, adding she believes the solar plant achieves that goal. “The idea that we’re going to protect every lizard, every drainage, seems counterproductive.”


It’s a tough dilemma for environmentalists. Tell us what you think?

To read the special report in multimedia PDF format, click here.


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We, human beings, need the same spaces that the animals do – it’s part of our basic needs. Solar energy is easy. Instead of creating “farms”, just put the panels on people’s roof – there are a lot of roofs, enough that we don’t need to use extra land. It’s all about the power companies making money, not about how to manage our resources wisely.

Posted by MayaLee | Report as abusive

Demonizing solar energy? Plants use solar energy, let’s eradicate them, shall we?
Putting up solar panels, like making a friggin fence, is an offense to nature?!? OK fine, let’s just keep on spewing fossil fuels into the environment. Oh wait, that’s who you work for, right?

Posted by SingleStepper | Report as abusive

Distributed power will lessen the need for these huge solar installations. Here’s a few ways people can generate power from home without encroaching on sensitivel ands elsewhere:

Posted by glwoll | Report as abusive

Asking for opinions is not very useful without supplying more information… such as: how much space per MegaWatt is needed for these plants? Is there to be a continuous blanket of collectors, or are they in sections with spaces between them? What is the proposed ratio of collector coverage to empty zones between? Answers to these questions make differences in the degree of environmental impacts. It’s not like trees – natural solar collectors – don’t shade out the zones below them: basking creatures manage to adapt to trees. It seems that making this out as a black vs. white issue is someone’s way of preventing discussion and compromise.

Posted by AltonBob | Report as abusive