Mojave Solar is taking local residents on a bus tour Wednesday to see the site of the proposed 250 MW solar thermal plant to be built near Barstow in the California Mojave desert. Mojave Solar is the US subsidiary of Spanish giant Abengoa Solar that won the bid to build the very innovative Desertec Plan to power Europe from the Sahara Desert.
The US division is based in nearby Victorville, where US COO Scott Frier raised his family, including one member who just recently returned back home from Iraq. Frier worked on the previous Solar Energy Generating Systems next to the proposed site, that have been operating successfully since the 80’s; originally built by Luz, now operated by NextEnergy.
After the tour, the California Energy Commission will lead a public hearing at Barstow City Hall to seek the public’s questions, concerns and comments as part of the approval process.
Mojave Solar’s project is one of over 10 GW of solar power now going through the environmental review process in California. Pacific Gas & Electric signed a contract with Mojave Solar in October for the energy (previous story), pending approval by state and local local review boards.
The $1.25 billion, 250 MW project with its estimated 1,260 construction jobs; is about halfway through very extensive environmental review. I have to wonder if the companies churning out the 25 GW worth of natural gas plants that have been approved since 2000 have had to ponder questions quite like this one posed by the California Energy Commission.
“…have the approved geoarchaeologist provide a discussion, based on the available
Quaternary science and geoarchaeological literature, of the historical geomorphology of the
Other questions answered included what soap is used in washing the mirrors, and will the soap leach into the soil (no; no surfactant is used) to what herbicide is used to prevent the buildup of desert weeds (which it has to, to prevent fire hazard, and so workers can see any broken glass) to how many miles to the nearest house (over five) to how many times a year is it washed (20 spray washes and 10 scrubbings) to how many hours might a possible observer see the sunlight reflected from the mirrors from various angles.
The site adjoins two older solar projects that Frier helped develop in the 90’s and is further out (away from town), than they are, and essentially employs the same tried and tested solar thermal trough technology. They have been reliably churning out clean solar energy for 20 years. By now, if there were any issues with the other sites, it would be apparent.
Dust mitigation will be carried out through the application of the same environmentally benign acrylic copolymers already approved by local agencies at the other two plants nearby and used in similar projects in Arizona and Nevada.
If the company can navigate the maze of this complex approval process in time, then Mojave Solar will be able to start building by next October, the deadline for receiving any Federal green stimulus dollars, and start making some good clean sunshine power and jobs out of the finest solar radiation in the USA, in the California desert.
Image: SEGS at Wikipedia
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