The desert regions of the Western US are experiencing a Sun Rush this decade. As a long-time Solar Energy enthusiast (a Solarite? a Photonophile? a PV-jeevee?), I’ve been expecting solar farms to blossom in the desert for decades. It is finally happening. Hooray!
But, as in so many other things, China is eclipsing the US in this growth. The NASA Earth Observatory posted images of Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, which is now the largest solar installation on the planet. The park covers 27 square kilometers (10 square miles) of Qinghai province, and has approximately 850MW generating capacity. NASA’s satellites captured before and after images, which show the rapid growth of the facility.
It was sad to see another story in the same week, reporting that the coal fired Navaho Generation Station (NGS) will close soon. The sad part is that the Navaho and Hopi tribes are lobbying to keep it open, because they rely on the income. Besides the horrid pollution in this once pristine environment, the coal plant cannot compete with natural gas. (It is even sadder that the tribes are appealing to the coal-friendly new US administration, hoping to obtain extensions of the subsidies –welfare for the coal industry.)
As Roger Clark says, here is an opportunity for US solar companies to leap in. I bet there is a good deal to be found here, and pilot projects have already set the stage.
If China can do it, then surely American Indians can.
- Roger Clark, Navajo Generating Station Can’t Compete With Natural Gas, in Grand Canyon Trust Blog. 2017. http://www.grandcanyontrust.org/blog/navajo-generating-station-cant-compete-natural-gas
- NASA Earth Observatory. Longyangxia Dam Solar Park. 2017, http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php.