California would become the Saudi Arabia of solar energy if a slew of large-scale solar power plants proposed for the sun-drenched Mojave Desert are built. The federal Bureau of Land Management has received right-of-way requests on 300,000 acres for 34 Big Solar power stations that would generate more than 24 gigawatts of green energy. That disclosure was made in a development application that BrightSource Energy has filed with the California Energy Commission to build a 400-megawatt solar power station complex in the Mojave just across from the Nevada. It’s unlikely, though, that anywhere close to that number of solar power plants will be built in the near future. Still, it’s an indication of the land rush that’s on as solar entrepreneurs start to lock up the best sites. So far, Southern California Edison (EIX) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SRE) have contracted for up to 1.75 gigawatts with Stirling Energy Systems of Phoenix. PG&E (PCG), meanwhile, is negotiating with BrightSource to provide 500 megawatts of solar electricity and has signed a contract for 553 megawatts more with Israeli solar power company Solel. All the projects would be built in or near the Mojave.
California’s Solar Land Rush
September 14, 2007 by Todd Woody