Feds OK First Large-Scale Solar Power Projects on Public Land - CA Getting 750MW+ More Clean Power

lucerne valley solar power project photo

photo: Department of Interior

The collective cheering yesterday about the new White House plans to install solar panels drowned out another significant federal solar power announcement, and one with much great practical impact: The Department of Interior approved the first two large-scale solar power plants on federal land. In total, about 750 MW of solar power capacity was given the green light.The two projects--a 709 MW concentrating solar power plant and a 45 MW photovoltaic project--are both located in California and will occupy some 6800 acres of public land.

The Imperial Valley Solar Project, being developed by Tessera Solar, will use Stirling Energy Systems' SunCatcher technology, deploying over 28,000 solar dishes to generate enough power for (roughly) a quarter to half a million homes.

The smaller project, Chevron's Lucerne Valley Solar Project, will be built on 422 acres in San Bernardino County and is expected to produce enough power for 13,500-33, 750 homes.

Heading off concerns about balancing the compelling needs of conservation and clean energy development, Secretary Salazar said in a press release,

There are 11 million acres of public lands in the California Desert, and a large majority of those lands are managed for conservation purposes. These projects, while a significant commitment of public land, actually represent less that one-hundredth of one percent of that total area. Given the many benefits, the extensive mitigation measures, and the fair market value economic return, approval of these projects is clearly in the public interest.

Take that in for a few moments, breathe a little bit easier knowing that the Obama administration has really gotten busy in the past week on the solar power front, and then head on over to The New York Times for a sobering reminder that China is still kicking the US' butt in the renewable energy department.

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More on Solar Power:
1.25 Gigawatts of Solar Thermal Power Approved in California in Past Two Days Will Double US Capacity
California Now Home to 50,000 Solar Panel Installations
White House Will Install Solar Panels After All, Huzzah!

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