Environmental advocacy groups are voicing their concerns against the proposed Mojave Desert solar farms.
They state that solar energy projects are harming the endangered species in the area. Solar power plants are said to have a large carbon footprint in themselves, and it is said that they would demand a large amount of water to in order to generate power.
The Mojave Desert might seem to be the ideal place to build solar power plants because it rarely has cloudy days. A majority of the applications for solar power permits are located on federal lands that are near the California, Arizona, and Nevada borders.
One aspect of these solar power plants is that they will require a large area of land in order to gather enough of the sun’s radiation to generate a significant amount of power. Long transmission lines need to be built into the desert, to connect the solar farms to the power grids. Because of the constructions, endangered desert species could be destroyed.
Anyone knows that water is scarce in the desert. Solar power plants require a lot of water for their operations. A solar power plant uses four times the amount of water that would be used by a natural gas power plant. It uses twice the amount of water used by a nuclear or coal power plant.
Senator Dianne Feinstein has already tackled the issue in congress, and is pushing for the legislation to make the Mojave Desert into a national monument. If that goes through, solar power facilities will not be allowed to be build within the desert. She has the support of the Wildlife Conservancy, which is also wary of the potential effects of large-scale solar farms in the Mojave.
The National Park Service is also concerned about the effects of solar power plants on the water supply in the desert, as well as on the lives of the endangered species that live in the region.
Some think that the government is favoring wind and solar farms instead of looking at the habitat conservation issues first. Alternative energy consumers and suppliers can receive tax credits for their projects, but this might be at the cost of losing some desert species. This issue has been debated upon ever since solar power plants started to sprout at an increasing rate.
Conservationists do have a valid point and solar power companies should look for a way to produce solar energy without sacrificing endangered species or their habitats.
Hopefully, someone will come out with a win-win resolution with regards to this issue.