Obama Admin Approves 2 Big Solar Projects on Public Lands

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The Department of Interior announced on February 19 that it had approved two new solar projects on public lands along the border between California and Nevada. The two projects would have a combined capacity of 550 megawatts, enough to power 170,000 homes.

The approval marks the 49th and 50th utility-scale renewable energy project to be approved on public lands. It is a part of the President's plan to achieve the installation of 20 gigawatts of renewable energy on public lands by 2020. The 50 projects approved thus far bring the rolling total to 14 GW. Out of the 50 projects, 27 are solar, 11 wind, and 12 geothermal.

The President set a goal of 10 GW of renewables on public lands by 2012. When that goal was met, he upped it to 20 GW by 2020. This includes progress that the Department of Defense makes toward its goal of installing 3 GW of renewable energy on military bases by 2025. With 14 GW already completed, the 2020 goal will likely be met on time.

The much-hyped 377-megawatt Ivanpah solar thermal project – the world's largest solar plant – that debuted last week was one of Interior's public lands projects. Also, a 3 GW wind project is under consideration that would carry Wyoming wind all the way to California. It is unclear if it will be built, but if so, it would be the largest wind project in North America.

Today's announcement includes the 300-megawatt Stateline Solar Farm Project in San Bernardino County, CA. The plant will be powered by solar PV, generating enough electricity for 90,000 homes. The second project is the Silver State South Solar Project, a 250 MW plant near Primm, NV.  Both projects have been proposed by Arizona-based First Solar.

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