Image credit: NextLight Solar
407MW Solar PV Plants to be Followed by Many More
The idea of utilizing deserts to generate solar power is an attractive one. Of course, they would come with their own ecological price, but some claim that solar power stations in a few deserts could power the entire world - and that's got to be an improvement on mountaintop removal and tar sands. Mike has already written about a 500mw solar thermal plant slated for the Mojave desert, and we've even seen claims from one analyst (disputed by our commenters) that a 12MW solar plant in Nevada has reached grid parity with coal. Now US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is hoping to fast track construction plans for huge solar photovoltaic plants - and permits for two plants supplying 407MW of power have already been applied for. All being well construction could be underway by 2010 - and that would just be the beginning. The move is part of an effort by the federal government to reserve 670,000 acres of Western public lands for the development of solar power across Nevada, California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. As many as 13 plants could be under construction by the end of next year. The Las Vegas Business Press has more details about the federal solar fast tracking scheme:
The Interior Department would break the 670,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management property into 24 Solar Energy Study Areas, and would expedite solar projects on the parcels. The federal government has already spent $22 million establishing a fast-track environmental-impact study process for projects on the sites, which aren't near national parks or military stations, Salazar said.
"It is time for a new energy frontier, a comprehensive energy plan that encompasses renewable energy," Salazar said. "This is part of a directive from President Barack Obama to do everything we can to put a bull's-eye on the development of solar energy on public lands across America."
California-based NextLight Renewable Power LLC was the first to apply for permits under the scheme for two locations in Nevada, but almost certainly others will follow. Watch this space.