US approves build of solar energy plants

The US Department of the Interior has approved the construction of the first large-scale solar energy plants ever to be built on public lands in the country. The two projects, both located in California, are the first in a series of renewable energy projects on public lands under final review by the department.

The approval grants the US-based companies that will build the plants access to almost 6,800 acres of public lands for 30 years to build and operate solar plants that could produce up to 754MW of renewable energy.

The projects will employ two different types of solar energy technology. The Imperial Valley Solar Project, proposed by Tessera Solar of Texas, will use Stirling Energy System’s SunCatcher technology on 6,360 acres of public lands in Imperial County, California. The plant is expected to produce up to 709MW from 28,360 solar dishes.

The Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar Project, proposed by Chevron Energy Solutions of California, will employ photo-voltaic solar technology on 422 acres of public lands in San Bernardino County, California, and will produce up to 45MW from 40,500 solar panels.

’There are 11 million acres of public lands in the California Desert, and a large majority of those lands are managed for conservation purposes,’ said Ken Salazar, US Secretary of the Interior.

’These projects, while a significant commitment of public land, actually represent less than one-hundredth of one per cent of that total area. Given the many benefits, approval of these projects is clearly in the public interest.’