BrightSource Solar Energy Project In Mojave Desert Shelved

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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.

::NY Times

More on BrightSource on Green Prophet:

California’s PG&E Signs Historic Solar Energy Contract With BrightSource Energy, for Solar Power

BrightSource Solar Energy Teams up with Bectel to build large California solar energy facility

BP Solar and SolarEdge Partner to Develop Power Harvesting System

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18 thoughts on “BrightSource Solar Energy Project In Mojave Desert Shelved”

  1. Lets hope they can still find a suitable place for this solar plant.
    It would be a terrible thing if we had to fire up some of the power plants sitting in Arizona and other places, Using Coal or Natural gas instead of solar, to keep California supplied with power.

    maybe another nuke plant at the border??? nobody wants that

    But yes i Know the law requires they produce green energy but they just pass fines on to us the consumer anyway, big deal

    Personally i am installing solar at my rural farm, where i grow trees, It is now much more affordable

    Arizona Desert Landscaping

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  3. Business papers don’t usually support the concerns of environmentalists, unless it’s good for business. Best to bury heads in the sand and let them go away. The problem is that environmentalists are now winning victories, showing that it might be wiser to work hand in hand with them from the beginning.

    BrightSource, as I’ve read, has a number of projects cooking around the world. The Mojave Desert is one of them.

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  6. Maurice Picow says:

    Interesting this should show up when the local Globes financial news gave the project such good write ups, including the recent article on how Brightsource had teamed up with Bectel to do this project.

    But as Will Rogers used to say: “all I know is what I read in the papers”.

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