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US earmarks 800,000 hectares of California desert for renewables

Sep 24, 2014 - John Parnell - pv-tech.org


A draft plan for the development and conservation of California’s deserts has proposed setting aside 800,000 hectares of land for renewable energy projects. Of this 176,000 hectares would be on public land.

The Draft Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) sets out a number of alternatives for the protection and development of 8.9 million hectares of land in a number of counties including Imperial, Kern, Riverside and Los Angeles.

Projects in the state have previously run into conflicts with environmentalists over the native desert tortoise while concentrting solar power projects have been linked to bird fatalities.

“The President’s Climate Action Plan calls for expanding clean, domestic energy on public lands to create jobs and cut carbon pollution,” said Sally Jewell, US secretary of the interior.

“The draft plan released today will help provide effective protection and conservation of the California desert important for wildlife, recreation, cultural preservation and other uses, while encouraging streamlined renewable energy development in the right places. This is a strong and innovative blueprint that shows how federal and state agencies can collaborate to meet conservation and energy objectives on a landscape-scale while providing certainty to developers. I look forward to additional public input on the draft plan.”

The plans include wind, geothermal and solar developments with the latter expected to represent more than half the installed capacity on the lands covered in the DRECP.

The proposals will be opened to public consultation until 9 January 2015.