Not since the Gold Rush has there been such a stampede to stake out land in California and surrounding states, except this time, solar energy is the prize. The Bureau of Land Management has been swamped with applications for solar projects across millions of acres of desert since July.
The bureau has seen a 78% increase in applications, now totaling 223. The applicants are all looking to capitalize on desert land in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado, with California leading with 107 applications alone. All of the projects are 10 MW or larger, with many proposing hundreds of megawatts. All together the projects would take up 2.3 million acres of land and would generate many, many gigawatts (the 75 projects listed on the BLM website total 51.6 GW and that's only a third of the applicants).
Out of the 223 applications, only 2 projects have progressed to the stage of environmental reviews, the real "make or break" when it comes to issuing permits (one is a 400 MW solar-thermal plant proposed by BrightSource, the other a 750 MW solar-thermal plant proposed by Stirling Energy). This is partly because many projects don't ever get past the application, but largely because the BLM is understaffed for this kind of demand and the bureau can't keep up. The BLM is looking to the new administration to increase their budget so more employees can be hired to process these requests.
This is a great example of where the new administration could back up their "green jobs" agenda. Not only would the BLM be hiring, but imagine the jobs created by these large solar projects that would likely take years to get up and running. If even a few of these projects end up getting approved, this could mean lots of jobs and lots of new solar energy.
via Greentech Media
written by Magnulus, January 13, 2009
written by Robin Green, January 13, 2009
written by Natureadvice, January 13, 2009
written by Sean Kidd, January 21, 2009
written by AT, March 19, 2009
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