22 million acres of US public lands are now called Solar Energy Zones – land that's suitable for large, utility-scale solar plants.
The land is in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.
The land was chosen after a joint environmental study, the Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, conducted by the DOE and Dept of the Interior. The study was initiated in 2008.
Over the past three months, 8 large-scale solar plant applications, with a combined power capacity of 3.6 GW, have been approved in Nevada and California. The BLM is considering a total of 104 existing applications, with a combined generation capacity of 60 GW.
On December 20, the Dept of the Interior approved SolarReserve's 110 MW Solar Tower project in Nevada, the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project. SolarReserve, a U.S. developer of utility-scale solar power projects, will begin construction in mid-2011. The project will provide electricity for 75,000 Nevada homes.
The project will generate approximately 500 solar jobs and more than 4,000 indirect and induced jobs during construction.
SolarReserve will use advanced solar technology developed in the US by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. The facility will capture and store enough thermal energy each morning to provide electricity at full power all afternoon and for up to eight hours after sunset. The technology will provide utilities with reliable renewable energy that performs on demand as do conventional power producers.