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On the Drawing Boards:


Solar Energy Study Area Interactive Panoramas

Arizona
Brenda
Bullard Wash
Gillespie

California
Imperial East
Iron Mountain
Pisgah
Riverside East

Colorado
Antonito Southeast
DeTilla Gulch
Fourmile East
Los Mogotes East

Nevada
Amargosa Valley
Delamar Valley
Dry Lake
Dry Lake Valley North
East Mormon Mountain
Gold Point
Millers

New Mexico
Afton
Mason Draw
Red Sand

Utah
Escalante Valley
Milford Flats South
Wah Wah Valley

http://www.solareis.anl.gov/...


The Plans On the Ground:

DOI Designates Solar Energy Zones
SustainableBusiness.com News
06/30/2009

The U.S. Interior Department Monday designated about 670,000 acres of land on Monday to be "fast-tracked" as potential areas for solar energy production.
[...]
The Solar Energy Study Areas, located in Nevada, Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah are outlined in maps to be published in the Federal Register today. Only lands with excellent solar resources, suitable slope, proximity to roads and transmission lines or designated corridors, and containing at least 2,000 acres of BLM-administered public lands were considered for solar energy study areas. Sensitive lands, wilderness and other high-conservation-value lands as well as lands with conflicting uses were excluded.  

The public will have the opportunity to comment on these proposed solar energy study areas during the environmental reviews before any final decisions are made.  The evaluation is expected to be completed in late 2010.
[...]
Currently BLM has received about 470 renewable energy project applications. Those include 158 active solar applications, covering 1.8 million acres, with a projected capacity to generate 97,000 MW of electricity.  That’s enough to power 29 million homes, the equivalent of 29% of the nation’s household electrical consumption.

http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/...


Instead of Zoning for Industrial Use -- Zoning for Solar:


BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT NEWS RELEASE
Washington Office Public Affairs
07/27/2009

Under a renewable energy initiative announced on June 29 by Sen. Harry Reid and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, 24 tracts of Bureau of Land Management-administered land located in six western states, known as Solar Energy Study Areas, would be fully evaluated for their environmental and resource suitability for large-scale solar energy production. The objective is to provide landscape-scale planning and zoning for solar projects on BLM lands in the West, allowing a more efficient process for permitting and siting responsible solar development.

http://www.blm.gov/...


But these PEIS Hurdles must be crossed first, by the end of this year, before building can begin:


Why a Programmatic EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] Is Appropriate

A Programmatic EIS evaluates the environmental impacts of broad agency actions, such as the development of programs or the setting of national policies. Development of specific agency-wide solar energy programs and additional related policy will involve the proposed amendment of land use plans and would establish environmental policies and mitigation strategies to be considered in making decisions on whether to fund projects or guarantee loans for the deployment of solar energy projects on BLM-administered lands or other Federal, State, tribal, or private lands.

http://solareis.anl.gov/...


GREAT first step, especially when you consider the Grand Solar Zone Potential:


From the January 2008 Scientific American Magazine
A Solar Grand Plan (Preview)
By 2050 solar power could end U.S. dependence on foreign oil and slash greenhouse gas emissions
By Ken Zweibel, James Mason and Vasilis Fthenakis    

A massive switch from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants to solar power plants could supply 69 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by 2050.

A vast area of photovoltaic cells would have to be erected in the Southwest. Excess daytime energy would be stored as compressed air in underground caverns to be tapped during nighttime hours.

Large solar concentrator power plants would be built as well.

A new direct-current power transmission backbone would deliver solar electricity across the country.

But $420 billion in subsidies from 2011 to 2050 would be required to fund the infrastructure and make it cost-competitive.

—The Editors

[...] The U.S. needs a bold plan to free itself from fossil fuels. Our analysis convinces us that a massive switch to solar power is the logical answer.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/...


My Question, why not "Go Further, Faster"?

DOI Estimate:  "enough to power 29% of the nation’s household electrical consumption"

SciAm Estimate:  "could supply 69% of the U.S.’s electricity"


A nearly Total Solar Society by 2050 -- It's Possible!

We're on the right track, as long as the we don't fetter away this Opportunity, to Corporate Privateers, who will "bottle up" all that Free Energy for themselves!


Solar Energy Zones -- it's another bright development from the Obama Administration -- definitely worth watching to see exactly what develops, as the next year unfolds!

Originally posted to Digging up those Facts ... for over 8 years. on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 04:37 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (19+ / 0-)

    The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood. --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Seymour, 1807

    by jamess on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 04:37:35 PM PDT

  •  I don't understand why (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, KenBee, jamess

    We need to set aside huge swaths of land for this. The
    Government owns miles and miles of highways. The electric companies own miles and miles of right of way already for their wires that are kept clear of trees. there are millions of businesses with huge rooftops open to the sun all day. It would make sense to me to use those and put  solar panels there first.  

    "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Daniel Patrick Moynihan

    by atlliberal on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 04:54:11 PM PDT

    •  Good thought, then the energy could be used (5+ / 0-)

      locally.  We need enough energy to replace coal and oil, so let's do both.

      "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." John Lennon

      by trashablanca on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 04:55:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They want to make sure ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, ladybug53, atlliberal

      Only lands with excellent solar resources, suitable slope, proximity to roads and transmission lines or designated corridors,

      Sensitive lands, wilderness and other high-conservation-value lands as well as lands with conflicting uses were excluded.  

      ie that it'll work, with mimimum impact,
      and probably rapid turn-around, too, I would guess.


      using those rooftops too is a good idea,
      but isn't that up to each individual Building Owner?

      The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood. --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Seymour, 1807

      by jamess on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 04:59:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They could offer an incentive (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, jamess

        If the building owner lets them hook up their roof to the grid, they get  a discount on their electricity. Win-win. Think about how much room the mall has on their roof. Far more than what they would use. If it was done on a large scale it could produce alot of energy without alot of impact. Same with the highways. (and elec right of ways)There's always a wide swath of cleared land along the highway. It seems to me that would be less of an impact than setting aside huge swaths of land for solar farms.

        Just my way of thinking outside the box.

        "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Daniel Patrick Moynihan

        by atlliberal on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 05:04:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have long favored PV being installed (5+ / 0-)

          on malls, big box stores, schools, large warehouses, etc.  However, my understanding is that a) malls receive their electricity for far cheaper than residential users thus the economics don't necessarily work out great and b) especially in the southwest, the amount of electricity generated by the panels would still not cover the electricity demanded by the mall.  Even if you cover the parking lot with solar "trees" it would not fully power the typical mall.

          With that said, that was research and calculations by me done a couple of years ago and I would love to be proven wrong or see some accurate data about electricity usage at malls, electricity rates and expected electricity generated by solar panels.

          We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

          by theotherside on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 05:26:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  parking lots as well (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jamess

            and the savings in land costs and air conditioning as well will add in.

            The rates paid by utilities are needing to be tweeked to make this possible..
            (Frackin caps lock,sorry, sorry, I'm not going to retype it :>)
            ANOTHER SOURCE OF LAND AND SUN IS SOUTHERN CENTRAL VALLEY CALIFORNIA. THE FARMLAND'S VALUE WAS SUBSIDIZED BY FLAKY WATER POLICIES (SOCIALIZING THE LOSSES, PRIVATIZING THE PROFITS, TYPICAL) AND THE WATER IS NEVER GOING TO BE AVAILABLE FOR THESE LANDS, NOW MARGINALIZED AND ALMOST USELESS .
              THE GROUND IS NOW CONTAMINATED BY SELENIUM AND OTHER SALTS. THESE LAND OWNERS WOULDN'T HAVE TO GET MUCH RENT TO DO BETTER THAN THEY ARE NOW WITH POOR OR NO FARMING.

            And they are close to LA so we wouldn't have to subsidize the power transmission companies.

            I think the push to put these projects in far away from the customers places is really hinky, and needs looking into.

            The is a really obvious way to hype people to support something with tax money that ends up favoring someone else financially. Pisses me off.

            n  Develop the rate structure and partnerships with private land owners, cover the Walmarts and their parking lots and we'll then talk about ruining our rural primitive and undeveloped lands for some Great Idea.

            The model here?
            T.Boone Pickens and his windfarms...I mean his "Windfarms".

            And how about the military bases like Area 51, Nellis etc, etc?

            I am not a number, I'm a free man!

            by KenBee on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 06:26:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Parking lots are good (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RunawayRose

              but from what I understand the structure to support the heavy panels makes them fairly cost prohibitive at the moment.  If the parking lots are already covered then that's a different matter.

              However, with all the advances going on with ink dye based PV then perhaps it would be possible to use poles and wires to support these much lighter type of PV panels.

              As for the military bases, agreed it's a great opportunity but, I believe, once again, the military gets it's electricity at commercial or industrial rates (although I could be wrong) and thus the economics don't work out real good.  However, Nellis did just install a whole heck of a lot of PV in the last couple of years and so I could (hopefully) be wrong.

              We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

              by theotherside on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 04:49:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  It would be cool if some of these sites (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, jamess

    turn out to be wind corridors as well.  I'd love to see the land used as a twofer if at all possible.

    "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." John Lennon

    by trashablanca on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 04:54:21 PM PDT

  •  Several questions (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, KenBee, jamess

    670,000 acres...given average efficiency rates for the industry, how many Gigawatt hours are we talking here?

    Some houses are just not suitable for PV.  Could people purchase panels for these locations and own them for the lifetime of the panels?

    Another commenter alluded to it but there is a very large coal power plant in, I believe, Farmington, NM.  The powerlines run from there to Phoenix.  Could you not install PV inbetween the power lines for the 300+ miles?  Do you need substations for this?  What technical considerations are there?

    With the amount of potential PV, can we finally see some serious economies of scale?  That is given two years to build a plant could we see a 2 GW production capability built in the Southwest that would result in panel costs of less than $.80 per watt?

    This is great news and it will be interesting to see how quickly the promise of these locations comes to fruition.

    We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

    by theotherside on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 05:20:45 PM PDT

    •  HVdc Technology (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, KenBee

      makes long-distance tranmission affordable
      (with mimimal energy lost.

      see this link
      Imagine a 350 World -- It IS Possible!

      for more info on High-Voltage-Direct-Current.

      The DOI plans seem to be anticipating using this,
      at least in some areas (?)

      The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood. --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Seymour, 1807

      by jamess on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 05:26:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Are you in the industry or just an (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, KenBee, jamess

        enthusiast?  The reason I ask is that I've been noodling with an idea that could dramatically accelerate achieving the holy grail of PV (grid parity) and I would be interested in bouncing the idea off of somebody in the industry.

        It's not a technical idea but more of a policy prescription that would create the economic model for massive investment in PV production/installation.

        We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

        by theotherside on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 05:37:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  sorry not in the industry (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RunawayRose, KenBee

          just think it's inevitable.

          and I like science, lol.

          good luck, you should write a diary,
          on the topic, and ask for help, maybe?

          The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood. --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Seymour, 1807

          by jamess on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 05:50:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The obvious question here is if this is such a (0+ / 0-)

    great idea why does it take the giveaway and ruin forever of hard won public lands. There are plenty of sites that aren't public lands that could provide land for a study...I mean a "study".

     Solar power and wind power are already Big Business, and they are going to exploit our enthusiasm whenever and wherever possible...if they have a board of directors they are essentially required to do so by law.  The result is this giveaway of public lands...and when I can't get a decent feed in tariff for a home system, that is bullshit.

    Now I'm all for solar energy, I'm against predatory capitalism.

    How about Walmart or some other Big Biz says 'you can have free rent to put your solar installations on my farm/parking/roof. With reasonable feed rates they might be much more likely to want to be in partnership with DOE/solar suppliers/energy transmission-sales companies. This the study that needs doing, not the free-government-land-in-rural areas-far-enough-to-need-a-huge-public-investment-to make-it-work study.

    I am not a number, I'm a free man!

    by KenBee on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 06:49:56 PM PDT

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