We’d been reporting over the last year or so about the California-Jerusalem company BrightSource and its plan to create a number of solar energy power plants in California’s Mojave Desert region. Early in the year it signed an historic contract with PG&E, as the power giant works to conform to California law and produce 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2010.
We’re not sure if they’re going to make it: some intense friction between environmentalists and the renewable energy developers has led to the Mojave solar project being dropped, reports the New York Times.
According to the Times, BrightSource Energy Inc. had been planning its 5,130-acre solar power farm in a remote part of the Mojave Desert. But it was going to be built on land previously intended for conservation. The company, based in Oakland, California and Jerusalem, Israel, said that it would look for another site.
Blocking the project was The Wildlands Conservancy, a California-based enviro group, as well as Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, who suggested the area become a national monument.
Donated by Wildlands to the Interior Department, the land was to be protected under assurances made by the Clinton administration. But by 2005 and the new Energy Policy Act, the Bush administration said the land could be used for solar energy projects.
“We salute BrightSource for their responsible behavior,” said David Myers, executive director of Wildlands to the New York Times. “A major conflict between the environment and renewable energy is over.”
If the plan went ahead, the BrightSource power plant would have been installed “at the heart of a signature valley” an area replete with bighorn sheep and other natural wildlife.
BrightSource did not comment.
BrightSource has high profile investors like Google and is advised by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
This latest turn of events, is yet another example of how the goals and priorities of clean technology industrialists need better alignment with environmentalists. It may also be one of how politicians use any controversy to strengthen their political campaigns.
Similar issues are at stake right now in Scotland as environmentalists fight over wind farms being installed in peat bogs. Not far from where I was born and raised in Canada, wind farms on the Thousand Islands, Wolfe Island, have transformed the traquil, and awe-inspiring landscape. Renewable energy is important for us to pursue, but not to the detriment of the very thing we are trying to protect. Something for us to think about.
More on BrightSource on Green Prophet: