US government identifies land to support 100 GW of solar


From pv magazine USA

The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversees nearly 250 million acres of land, mostly in the western half of the country. In 2012, the BLM worked with the Obama administration to flag potential sites in the western United States to develop large-scale, federally managed solar. It identified 1,400 square miles of public land, which could support 100 GW of solar.

That figure would nearly double the installed capacity of the United States. That said, only a minute amount of solar PV infrastructure is federally managed for the public.

However, this might soon change, as BLM is working with the Biden administration to revive some of the Obama-era investigations into such projects. This week, BLM held a call to nominate land for solar development across Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico, with a combined area of 140 square miles. The agency’s director, Tracy Stone-Manning, said that officials are actively evaluating 40 large-scale projects on identified public land.

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Progress has already begun on this front, as BLM has approved the construction of the Arica and Victory Pass solar projects in California. The two sites have a planned combined capacity of 465 MW of solar and 400 MW of battery energy storage. The projects represent a $689 million investment and an estimated $5.9 million in annual operational economic benefit.

Clearway Energy Group is set to construct, operate, maintain and decommission the two facilities. The projects will be developed as part of the BLM’s Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, which seeks to conserve desert ecosystems and recreational areas, while expanding decarbonized energy in California.

State officials have said that the further approval of the 500 MW Oberon project in California is expected in the days ahead.

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