By Richie Gerber
“Don’t it always seem to go. That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. They paved paradise. And put up a parking lot.” Famous lyrics from the song Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell. How do these lyrics relate to Solar Farms you might be asking yourself?
Whenever we hear solar power brought up we all burst out in green Goosebumps because it is touted as a clean and sustainable energy source. As a mater of fact much of the new energy legislation being pushed by government relies heavily on solar power. I would like to shed some light on the dark side of Solar Power since nobody is really talking about this. Even environmentalists are split on this one.
Let The Sunshine
Most of the big money and interest in solar power is being bet on huge solar farms. Enormous government dollars are being given to big players in the Solar Farm industry. Billions of our dollars are going to big energy corporations invested in this technology. Many solar farm projects are being considered to be located on government land. But there are lots of other projects slated for private land as well. Most are in remote areas such as the Mojave Desert. Just to see how huge this is, the Bureau of Land Management in California is reviewing applications for permits utilizing over 1 million acres in the Mojave Desert for solar farms alone. There are hundreds of projects for huge solar farms around the US as well as Canada. They are mostly in remote areas and take up vast amounts of land since the solar arrays are designed to have the largest amount of surface area to increase efficiency.
I’ve been to the Desert on a Horse with no Name
Let’s take the Mojave Desert for an example. Most people hear the word desert and think it is barren and junky land, of no useful value. Most folks don’t realize that it is a wonderful and diverse eco system, which has evolved over millions of years. It has a multitude of animals, plants and other living things adapted to this unique environment. Since it is not very hospitable to humans, which diminishes its ability to be developed, we have labeled it as junk land. Just like here in Florida, at one time some called the Florida Everglades a swamp, not realizing its diverse eco system that also provides water to the entire South Florida Region.
When Sunny Get’s Blue
In a Solar Farm the dozers come in and make roads to the remote tracts. Then they scrape the huge land areas and smooth out the surfaces. So now vast tracts of virgin land have been changed for all time forward. Metal racks are erected to hold the solar arrays. These solar panels absorb sunlight but also give shade to the land underneath them. Now we have millions of acres of historically sun caressed land put into the shade. This must have an enormous effect on the sensitive and diverse eco system. Now repeat this scenario hundreds of times all over the country.
I Am a Lineman for the County
In order to deliver the power from these remote regions to the population centers large transmission lines must be constructed through these remote areas. Huge amounts of water are needed as well to help cool the turbines, which convert the sun’s heat into electricity. Remember that some of these areas like the Mojave Dessert do not have that much water to spare. That’s why it is named the Mojave Dessert! If this is not a shock to the environment then I don’t know what is. All we talk about is global warming and carbon footprint while sometimes missing the larger picture that sometimes the cure is as bad or worse than the problem.
One Man’s Ceiling is Another Mans Floor
Even the governor of California has shown his lack of sophistication on this subject by not realizing the value of the Mojave Dessert. Governor Schwarzenegger said in a speech last year at a Yale University climate-change conference: “If we cannot put solar power plants in the Mojave Desert, I don’t know where the hell we can put it.” Maybe he will start to understand that even this desolate dessert is a unique and valuable eco system, which needs protection. Even Governor Ah-nold doesn’t have a clue.
Epp-Bee-Log: I don’t want to appear that I am a negatively charged electron with no ideas. So I would like to tell you my positively charged proton plan in my next posting. I call it: Cousin Richie’s Here Comes The Sun Solar Power Plan. So let’s not Take Paradise and put up a Solar Farm until you hear me out.
Do Nothin’ Til You Hear From Me