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Solar Energy First-Solar-first-solar-BLM-land

Published on May 8th, 2012 | by Susan Kraemer

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First Solar is the First Solar Inaugurated on Public Lands

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May 8th, 2012 by  

First-Solar-first-solar-BLM-land

The first solar plant of a 6.5 GW boom in Obama-era projects approved on public lands land was just inaugurated today.

Silver State North began generating electricity to the Nevada grid a mere year and a half after getting its initial approval by the Department of the Interior in 2010 and going on to successfully hurdle the following environmental reviews and get final approvals.

Silver State was the first of 28 other large-scale renewable energy projects approved by the Obama administration on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in a boom for renewable energy not seen before in the U.S. More than 98% of all leases supplied by the BLM before 2009 were for oil and gas drilling, not renewables.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar attended the ceremony in Primm, Nevada, to inaugurate Silver State North.

“This is a landmark day for solar energy and for the nation,” Salazar says. “Silver State North was the first solar project we approved on public lands in Nevada and –18 months later — the first of our priority projects to provide clean energy to the power grid. This is a model of industry and government working together to strengthen local economies, generating good jobs and affordable, reliable and sustainable power.”

The Silver State North project is sited 40 miles south of Las Vegas, in the Ivanpah region, where it has a 25 year energy contract to supply power for NV Energy. The 50 MW project was the first of three phases of a project approved for First Solar. A much larger 350 MW Silver State South, to be built in two more phases was to have supplied the California grid, but may not make it.

The 50 MW thin-film solar project was developed by First Solar, but sold to Enbridge in March. When PV prices dropped it squeezed the solar companies such as First Solar or Solyndra that innovated alternatives to traditional PV that were (initially) cheaper.

Thin film is less efficient than traditional crystalline PV; which means it takes more space to make the same power. It uses 618 acres of desert land owned by the BLM, in a desert tortoise-rich region currently abused by Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) users, who were among those who had weighed in on the proposed project.

 

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate, and GreenProphet. She has also been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.



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  • Oilmath

    50MW (peak daytime output?) per square mile (640acres). multiply by 1000 (sq. mi) and that is 50GW peak? That would cover California daytime usage for 300 clear days/year maybe? How much more is needed with energy storage to dump CO2 energy sources? What is the useable roof top area available in Los Angeles and other cities to avoid covering valued wilderness? Need a regularly updated page on solar (and other clean energy) statistics vs. energy needs…maybe already one?

    • http://importantmedia.org/author/susan Susan Kraemer

      Oilmath, the engineers at Desertec have done that sort of research. Google it for size of solar to power world, it is pretty tiny. Their idea is to supply all the world’s power form solar in deserts which are close enough to all population centers (Sahara, Australia, Southwest, China, Andes) to supply it all. But there is no need to supply all power from solar alone. Wind is better for some regions, hydro, geo, ocean all help.

    • http://muckrack.com/dotcommodity Susan Kraemer

      Oilmath, the engineers at Desertec have done that sort of research. Google it for size of solar to power world, it is pretty tiny. Their idea is to supply all the world’s power form solar in deserts which are close enough to all population centers (Sahara, Australia, Southwest, China, Andes) to supply it all. But there is no need to supply all power from solar alone. Wind is better for some regions, hydro, geo, ocean all help.

      • Bob_Wallace

        I don’t think you’re correctly representing the Desertec plan. While a big input is solar from North Africa, many other sources tie into the system.

        Iceland is expected to furnish hydro and geothermal, the British Isles and Ireland wind, tidal and perhaps wave. Norway has lots of good hydro which can be used as dispatchable input. Denmark and other northern areas have good wind. Further south solar should be a larger part of the mix. Geothermal and existing nuclear will contribute what they have to offer.

        The idea makes enormous sense to me. Asia needs its own “Desertec” as does North America. We think nothing of shipping coal and oil vast distances. Why should we balk at shipping electricity? By tying multiple areas together we lower variability and we will be able to share storage and backup generation.

        • http://importantmedia.org/author/susan Susan Kraemer

          Well, yes, it has become more than just desert solar. But the impetus came from the calculation about how large a region of the planet it would take to supply all the solar from deserts – so rather than google it up, I steered Oilmath to that as it would answer his/her question.

        • http://muckrack.com/dotcommodity Susan Kraemer

          Well, yes, it has become more than just desert solar.

          But the impetus came from the calculation about how large a region of the planet it would take to supply all the solar from deserts – so rather than google it up, I steered Oilmath to that as it would answer his/her question.

  • Bill_Woods

    “Thin film is less efficient than PV; …”

    Thin film is PV.

    • http://importantmedia.org/author/susan Susan Kraemer

      Than traditional crystalline PV. You know what I mean, Bill!

      • http://importantmedia.org/author/susan Susan Kraemer

        Will fix, though.

    • http://muckrack.com/dotcommodity Susan Kraemer

      You are becoming my best editor ever, Bill! Yeah, I mean than traditional solar PV: the crystalline hard panels.

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  • MV

    @ew – did you read the bit that said the “region currently abused by Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) users”.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FOC22ASOR22OMA5U2ACKXG3CCA ew

    618 acres? That will certainly wreak havoc on the ecology.

    • bwark

      Would you say that if they were building golf courses, or starting a horse ranch. nah. no havoc. the land is desert. just green and clean. provide some shade during the day for many small animal.

    • Ross

      It passed the environmental review so I guess not.

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