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Senator Feinstein's Mojave Bill comes during a gold rush to secure rights for renewable energy.

Projects of up to 1000 megawatts are planned, a figure that matches typical outputs of coal and nuclear plants.

The United States Atlas of Renewable Resources put out by the Department of Energy. If you click '40km solar' a patch of deep gold will fill the Southwest. The deep colors signify up to seven hours of sunshine every day on average. (The icon menu at top shows a box with a list in it, far left, which is the legend.)

This one's about multiple use. California's vast deserts. Once there click the PDF map of BLM sites of large solar facilities. Zoom in and find the word CACA and a six digit number. Each CACA number is a proposed solar project site. Example, CACA 048811 is the huge Solar Millenium Blythe, a 1000 MW project.

Dedicated transmission corridors (in lavender) cross this region, and it's easy to see that what happens in the desert doesn't stay in the desert, but moves as electricity to LA, San Diego,and other metro area.

BLM has received right-of-way requests encompassing more than 300,000 acres for the development of approximately 34 large solar thermal power plants totaling approximately 24,000 megawatts.

Regions vary in energy needs and 24 hour usage patterns, but it has been offered that one megawatt of electricity can serve 1000 homes. Other formulae are much lower, resulting in as much as half that estimate.

Three design types in the current state of solar arts on display here: solar towers (video), parabolic trough, and Stirling engine, an ingenious 19th century design. Additionally there are hybrids using fossil fuels and even biomass, so that plants can meet demand in the morning or during cloudy periods.

Near Hollister CA the world's largest solar project I personally decided if this project was right was looking at the species that are out there. Fox, lizard, raptor, and other incredible survivors.  

A Silicon Valley company is proposing to build here what would be the world's largest solar farm — 1.2 million solar panels spread across an area roughly the size of 3,500 football fields.

A huge transmission line runs through the property.

President Barack Obama's stimulus plan contains billions in grants and tax credits for green power. It would pay for 30 percent of Solargen's project in the Panoche Valley, for example, if ground can be broken by Dec. 1, 2010.

In the Mojave solar fight, it's about Federal power and conservation on a grand scale.

December 21, 2009

AMBOY, Calif. — Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation in Congress on Monday to protect a million acres of the Mojave Desert in California by scuttling some 13 big solar plants and wind farms planned for the region.

Developers of the projects have already postponed several proposals or abandoned them entirely. The California agency charged with planning a renewable energy transmission grid has rerouted proposed power lines to avoid the monument.

Feinstein pointed out that the tract was obtained by a purchase of lands with both federal and private funds, for the purpose of conservation, and she intends to uphold that commitment.

A followup NYT blog painted in some details of the bill, such as a concession to renewable-energy advocates, to allow transmission lines to be built through existing utility rights-of-way in the monument to transmit renewable energy from other desert areas to coastal metropolises.

The California Desert Protection Act of 2010 is huge.

A lot of desert tortoises will be saved (I met one in "downtown" Joshua Tree a few years ago), but tortoise protection is only one factor, and there are many other compelling reasons to protect these lands.
There's a lot of area in California's vast, level, sunny deserts, a lot of it is at military bases

Here's a map of the lands under the bill

Feinstein's bill provides assistance and expedited red-tape cutting to relocate banned Mojave projects to alternative sites. There's still much room in Southern California for big solar projects, such as in the previously cited BLM lands, so it seems that the outlook for solar power in the region is sunny indeed.

Sunny for Chevron and Goldman Sachs, as well, but you know what, it's the corrupt oligarchy you have... and that's how the world works. Let it work for this right now.

cross-posted at DK GreenRoots

Originally posted to bob zimway on Sat Jan 02, 2010 at 08:59 AM PST.

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