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Mojave Desert Solar Project One Step Closer to Powering 20,000 Homes

Chevron Energy Solutions’ proposed 45-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) plant on 516 acres of federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) moved one step closer to being build after clearing its final environmental review by BLM. The solar complex is expected to generate enough electricity to supply 20,000 California homes with power.

The Lucerne Valley Solar Project is located on unincorporated land in the Mojave Desert, near Lucerne Valley in San Bernardino County, Calif. The California Energy Commission estimates that as many as 160,000 acres of desert lands in California are needed to meet its 33 percent renewable energy goal by 2020.

The Lucerne project is one of BLM’s “fast-track projects” that demonstrate that they have made sufficient progress to formally start the environmental review and public participation process.

BLM says these projects are advanced enough in the permitting process that they could potentially be cleared for approval by December 2010, making them eligible for economic stimulus funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Nine other solar projects in California as well as five in Nevada are participating in the fast-track program.

The Lucerne project has the support of several conservation groups — including the Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society — because it demonstrates that large-scale energy projects can be planned to protect plants, wildlife and other desert resources, says the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“The Lucerne Valley Solar Project is a great example of a project that’s smart from the start,” said Johanna Wald, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We need clean energy, but we also need to protect our diverse wildlife, unique wildlands, and dwindling water supplies. The Lucerne Valley Project achieves the balance between meeting our clean energy needs and protecting our sensitive public lands ecosystem.”

Other reasons for the support include Lucerne Valley’s high solar potential, and because it’s close to existing roads, infrastructure and transmission lines. It also avoids sensitive areas that have been identified as critical for wildlife and vital natural resources.

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4 thoughts on “Mojave Desert Solar Project One Step Closer to Powering 20,000 Homes

  1. Certainly not suggesting that the resources to make all the panels necessary and so on are available, but if 160,000 acres of land would cover 1/3 of Californians electricity needs, it stands to reason that 480,000 would be able to cover everyone in the State. With over 9.6 million acres I think the Mojave can easily contain whatever they want to put there. We could even be really silly and calculate that California’s 37M people is 12% of the 310M people in the United States with a little rounding off here and there we can say that if it were possible to get all those resources in place that putting solar panels in covering “only” half the Mojave desert could provide all the electricity for the United States. (Please no bashing, no rare desert species were harmed in the writing of this comment.)

  2. This is great- we need to use the and and resources we have in order to begin to look at the energy crisis as something affecting our lives. If we dont stop abusing foreign energy the consequences will be so grave and i’m worried if we dont act now we wont see the brunt of whats to come until its too late

  3. Perhaps oil isn’t as plentiful as we think…

    Hopefully, Cheveron (and other competitors) will use robotic PV factories to lower costs. Only then will we be able to somewhat afford the 25,000 sq miles (or so) needed to convert everything over to electricity. Imagine all the installation jobs!

    In the mean time, this is a great start, definately being much more effective (at developing PV mass automation) than simply subsidizing thousands of high priced rooftop panels.

    Also, in the mean time, we should outright ban (most of) coal in favor of natural gas. NG (alone) would cut CO2 emissions by over half! This would give the solar industries more time to research {just what is the best form of solar collection and storage} before spending billions on robotic PV factories on the less efficient and more costly panels of today.

    Obviously, such vast amounts of deserts do NOT need to be paved over (which is necessary for the solar trough system) as billions of simple post mounted systems do not really disturb the land.

    The only downfall is that the cheaper molten salt system of energy storage can not be used and that large utility scale batteries are not yet developed to even come close to such cost benefits. This is another reason why we should x out coal in favor of NG, that is for more time to research the {best solar} way…

  4. “if 160,000 acres of land would cover 1/3 of Californians electricity needs, it stands to reason that 480,000 would be able to cover everyone in the State.”

    When the sun is shining and the solar panels are clean.

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