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US To Build Crimson Solar Project in California Desert



close up of solar power panels, in desert | US To Build Crimson Solar Project in California Desert | Featured

On Monday, the US Department of the Interior announced approvals for the Crimson Solar Project in the Southern California desert. The Bureau of Land Management gave its final approval for the $550 million Crimson Solar Project.

The project will use 2,000 acres of land located 13 miles west of Blythe in Riverside County, near the Arizona border. 

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The Crimson Solar Project

The firm Recurrent Energy subsidiary Sonoran West Solar Holdings will undertake the development for the site of the Crimson Solar Project.

Once completed, operator Southern Power Edison will have enough to power almost 90,000 homes in California. The project site, which includes a 350-megawatt energy battery storage system, won’t go through any more land issues due to the BLM’s approval Monday.

In addition, the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan already marked the area as a renewable energy site. 

In addition, the Crimson Solar Project supports President Joe Biden’s massive climate change initiative. Earlier, he said he wanted the US to operate at 100% clean energy by 2035.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland also endorsed the development. “The time for a clean energy future is now. Projects like this can help to make America a global leader in the clean energy economy through the acceleration of responsible renewable energy development on public lands,” she said. 

Detrimental Effects

While the Crimson Solar Project involves 2,000 acres of land, it won’t do much for Biden’s job creation programs. In total, the development phase of the project will create 650 temporary construction jobs.

Then, operations and maintenance of the plant for 30 years will only require 10 permanent jobs and 40 temporary ones. In addition, the project received criticism for potential detrimental effects on local wildlife.  

According to Blythe engineer Sam Hirsch, the project falls short of expectations. “This isn’t the job creator project that Biden keeps promising.

In terms of the environment, it makes sense, and you can argue that this is replacing oil and natural gas, so it would help make up for those losses. But we can’t kid ourselves and call this a major job creator. It’s several hundred construction jobs, but panels are been pre-fabricated, so those go up fast.

It’s a handful of jobs at most. 10 permanent, 40 temporaries they said. I’ve helped develop solar projects before. We’d be lucky to have that many,” he remarked. 

Better Approach is For Homes To Put Up Solar Panels

Hirsch thinks the government might be using the wrong approach. “Honestly, a better approach would be to have houses and apartment complexes be told by law to put up solar panels, build storage areas across the state to collect excess energy, and let it cycle through, then slowly wean off gas and oil,” he said.  

Hirsch also discussed the problems of solar plants after a few years. Solar farms “provide a lot of problems that the Interior Department is handily leaving out.

Like the fact that disposing of old solar panels in 20-30 years' time will be a huge environmental issue because of all the toxins in the panels. We actually warn people about it. Wildlife out there is also going to be harmed. I know the BLM approved it and it’s not going on federally protected land, but it’s still a major concern,” he explained.

“No energy source will be perfect, but with more solar projects like this going up, we’re just pushing those problems to the next generation to solve,” he added.

Watch the CBS News Tech Watch edition on Green energy upgrades for your home:

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