Clean Power

Published on July 25th, 2013 | by Jo Borrás


US Halts Mining In Designated Solar Energy Zones

July 25th, 2013 by  

The US Department of the Interior has put a stop to new mining claims across 17 newly-defined “solar energy zones,” further emphasizing the Obama administration’s commitment to clean, sustainable energy.


The 17 “no mining” sites are spread across the western states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. Each was selected as being an area of public land highly suited for solar developments thanks to high irradiation, access to planned and existing transmission lines, and the ability install large solar arrays with a minimal biological, cultural, and historical or “landmark” impact.

The ban on new mining claims in the 300,000-plus acre area is set to stay in place for a minimum of twenty years. This gives solar energy producers — who are successfully dropping solar energy costs and actively creating jobs as I type this — time to develop these areas for clean energy production that also doesn’t impact these areas’ historically low water tables as much as coal and nuclear plants do by diverting water that is sorely needed for crops and humans towards their cooling towers.

To sum up: no new, heavy-emission mines. Plenty of new, zero-emission solar power. I’d call that a big win, wouldn’t you?

Source | Photo: PV Magazine.

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About the Author

I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Skype (jo.borras) or Google+.

  • tom

    Would be pretty cool had the govt not slapped tariffs on china. They doubled the cost of the job before this happened. Unless someone stored up warehouses full of them at bottom prices; and they planned on the consumer to take the hit after corporate and govt interests got theirs (lest I mention the willing wealthy who got theirs).

    • Bob_Wallace

      The tariff on Chinese panels does not drive the cost of panels up enough to make a significant difference in total system cost. There is absolutely no way the cost of a project was doubled.

      Most of the cost of a solar system is not the panels, it’s the rest of the system. The BoS, balance of system. BoS costs include racks, inverters, wire, hardware and labor. Put that together and you have total system cost.

      Panels are about 1/3rd of total system costs. Not included are real estate and transmission. These new solar farms will get decent lease rates and will be located with “access to planned and existing transmission lines”.

      Solar is coming on line.

      • tom

        OK Bob; what would be the orginal cost… so we can keep an eye out. Just a loose qu question though…. do you have solar yourself. Lets assume for example; we bought a large batch of say trina panels; for a couple hundred a panel (240 watt). Then we said to the chinese; you intsalll them. Of course; we would have to mmake the final inspection; but it would be nice to have some figures from you. I bought a Canadian transformer; really cutting edge; which adds about 10 percent to those panels and wire runs. Oh yes, I bought a 5 kv system with 7 kw back up generation and 1600 amp hours in batteries with solar panels and all the works for less than 10k. Of course it was far more expensive then. The cost of doing business with an american company at the time was about 40k. So lets assume the Chinese are subsidizing out power? I say go for it. Since it is hard to balk about it; when we don’t hold the rare earths….. why not let them have this one. We could discuss the solar credits; which by the way have evaporated. That is indeed a function of legislation… for which we have sole control. Discourse is a wonderful thing.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I don’t know what you’re asking with “what would be the orginal cost”.

          Yes, I do have solar panels. I’ve been off the grid with solar for over 20 years.

          I do understand what you’re saying about the Chinese government subsidizing our power. But we have to ask if that is a good thing in the long run.

          Right now First Solar, an American company, is one of the low cost solar manufacturers. Is it in our interest to let the Chinese force them into bankruptcy along with all other US manufacturers, leaving us dependent on Chinese production?

          Once there are no more US manufacturers then China could start cranking up their panel price, recover their losses, and make even more than they would have made. Some savings now could mean paying more in the future.

          Let’s say we do nothing to protect our manufacturers. China subsidies their manufacturers, they sell so cheap that all our factories go out of businesses. Let’s say they start selling panels in the US for 50 cents/watt and we can’t manufacture for less than 52c/W.

          Then once all US plants are out of business they crank the price up to $1/W. They’re the only source. We’d have to pay their price.

          Then someone decides to manufacture in the US once more. China lets them get close to production, drops the price once more to 50c/W and bankrupts the US start-up. Then China cranks their prices back up to $1/W.

          Short term savings on our parts can screw us overall.

          Now, if China can truly manufacture for less than anyone else, then they get to be the sole producers. But they must play fair.

          • tom

            Let me simplify. If china has the rare earths…. and much of the mining…. then how do we compete on that front. Perhaps there are some items that we should let them have. Controlling such a large portion of the input metals is one of them. Unlike other manufacturing; for which we should grow some balls. China is not the enemy. Would you take loans from your enemy. Would you sell all your enemies products in your store. Would you place the fastest optics in america; between the communist govt and the U.S. Would you constantly leak secrets every time a democrat entered office (some would say they are not leaks at all). We are so much like China; they have just not passed the memo around yet. China has one major problem though; that is a huge population. Notice they keep buying our farms. If you get a loan for say a thousand;… what do they request from you. Now ask an enemy what they requested. It’s not an IOU. We are just screaming like little children because we lost at our own game of dominance. I don’t have the answers though. Glad to hear you like solar.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well we could reopen our rare earth mineral mines and processing plants. Which we’re doing.

            We produced rare earth minerals before China entered the market, undercut our prices and forced our mines and plants to close.

            Then we could build EVs and wind turbines that don’t use rare earth minerals. Which we’re doing.

            Tesla EVs use no rare earth magnets in their motors. China is even manufacturing turbines without rare earth minerals in order to make them less expensive.

            China is a competitor. It is not unreasonable to require all parties in the game to follow the rules of the game.

          • tom

            Ever seen the story of stuff

          • I’m not sure what the deal is about these rare earths you keep mentioning, but are you assuming that you need rare earths to make (silicon) solar panels? Well, you don’t.

          • tom

            They are getting better; I’ll give you that one. Though production is another thing. I support axion; yet they are getting a black eye (just one example). Seems our own bag men are poking them. The American way you know.

          • tom

            So lets say it goes up to two a watt… then we produce such ourselves. Who says we can’t start next year. We did it last year. So that story is a tad weaker.

        • tom

          You said the cost would not double; so I asked for a figure.

  • Wayne Williamson

    Very cool. But yet another thing for the “anti” environment group to scream foul…

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