Utah part of solar-energy study

Interior secretary says land can generate 100,000 megawatts

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  • Anonymous
    July 1, 2009 8:12 a.m.


  • lost in DC
    June 30, 2009 4:06 p.m.

    I think the southwest utah wilderness association (or whatever they call themselves) have a real conundrum on their hands. do they ensure the environmental impact statement is complete, or do they bow to BO and salaczar on this one?

    land in CA has already been ruled off limits for a solar farm because of some desert animal, will they protect "red state" land to the same extent they protect "blue state" land? don't kid yourself, of course they will not!

    how many of you in favor of this relegation of Utah to third-class status in the BO misadministration are off the grid and/or paying the extra $2 an hour that rocky mountain power charges for "green" power. they've been offering it, if you're so sold on it, why aren't you using it?

    I thought Hawaii was sunnier more of the time than Utah, why not cover their landscape with these panels? that's right, red-state blue-state BO home-state.

  • Eighty
    June 30, 2009 3:51 p.m.

    Having spent my entire career in energy engineering and even grew up in the petroleum business, I have three comments:

    1. Very little oil is used to generate electricity - most is used in transportation, bringing the groceries, etc. to the consumer.

    2. Solar electric generation is still minuscule as compared to coal and a study is just that. We are years away from a real impact on our energy consumption.

    3. I was Construction Executive on the Solar One project at Daggett and, early on, calculated, based on the operation and maintenance costs with a reasonable write-off on investment, that the kwh cost would be nearly 50c. You can have it. By the way, although I know the oil coagulated and became useless, I had not heard they had tried salt and failed. Back to comment 2. It is an infant industry.

  • Thinkin' Man
    June 30, 2009 2:44 p.m.

    RE: Salt

    A solar plant using first oil and later molten salt was built in 1981 in the Mojave Desert at Dagget, California. It was such a money pit, it was closed down after a short, expensive run. It's now a telescope.

    The U.S. is ahead, not behind on this. Spain and others are now learning the painful lesson that large-scale solar power generation is too expensive and too inefficient.

    The "bile" of Anonymous 1:14 is astounding! I thought such bias, prejudice, ignorance, and vitriol were rare in America.

  • Cassie
    June 30, 2009 2:20 p.m.

    does anyone know where i could look at the map outlining the potential solar energy locations? the article says it was added to the Federal register, and I can't find it anywhere. Help?

  • RedShirt
    June 30, 2009 2:14 p.m.

    How about this for an arguement for going Nuclear instead of PV arrays.

    A 1000 MegaWatts nuclear facility can take up 75 acres of land. Not all of that land is used for buildings, so there is still some room for green carbon absorbing trees and such.

    SkyTran sells PV arrays that operate at 16 watts/sq ft. So, if we took 75 acres, and covered it entirely with PV arrays, we could produce 52 MegaWatts. So, to produce the same amount of energy as a nuclear power plant, we would need 62,500,000 sq ft or 1435 acres. So, which power source do you think will have the greatest impact on the environment?

    Waste from nuclear plants can be buried inside of a deep hole, again with minimal environmental impact.

  • abbi
    June 30, 2009 1:56 p.m.

    Brandon | 1:38 p.m. Hey Brandon, nobody generates electricity in the Wasatch Valley except for cogeneration plants and natural gasplants.

  • Anonymous
    June 30, 2009 1:50 p.m.

    Anonymous | 1:14 p.m "who have made a goal of abusing their environment..., and abusing the people around them ..., and destroying the environment for future generations...."

    Amazing since each solar site will cover three square miles, killing the whole ecosystem in those three square miles, solar sites proposed will destroy the environments, be noxious visually, and destroy the environment for future generations. Total proposed unopposed solar sites 75, currently totals 225 square miles. To maintain the sites will require vehicles to drive throught the whole site so everything underneath will be killed. Then you still need transmission lines.

    Thus the environment is a poor qualifier for solar as opposed to clean coal, nuclear, or natural gas.

    And I always thought the deseret was a fragile environment.

  • Brandon
    June 30, 2009 1:38 p.m.

    One would think with the egregious quality of the air in your area, you would have long adopted cleaner energy source techniques. I have been to the Wasatch Valley in January. I could barely breathe OR see. You all need all the help you can get.

  • To Uhura
    June 30, 2009 1:37 p.m.

    You are the kind of homeowner we need more of.

    Thank you for getting your home off the grid with an exciting way to generate energy.

  • To Dee
    June 30, 2009 1:24 p.m.

    It's interesting how people (perhaps fossil fuel employees?)seem to have ignored your post.

    I have also read of the new way to store solar energy using molten salts. It's already being done in Spain and Russia. So why should the U.S. lag behind? I'm glad Arizona is starting this new-to-us technique.

    New techniques are being invented at a rapid pace. We need to encourage this, instead of be naysayers and only look at the old ways.

  • jfs
    June 30, 2009 1:16 p.m.

    Thomas Edison | 12:58 p.m proposed neighborhood power generation because he advocated D.C. power rather than A.C. D.C. power can only be transmitted over short distances, thus requiring multiple local generating facilities.

  • Anonymous
    June 30, 2009 1:14 p.m.

    I cannot believe people are spewing bile about solar energy.

    No, actually, never mind. I fully expect the maximum amount of bile to be spewed from your disgraceful demographic, who have made a goal of abusing their environment on grounds that it is conservative, and abusing the people around them on the grounds that it is conservative, and destroying the environment for future generations on the grounds that it is conservative.

    How can these people who thirst for such evil live with themselves? I hope you stay in the desert.

  • KM
    June 30, 2009 1:10 p.m.

    100,000 megawatts. Isn't that what it takes to energize Al Gores home for a month? Scamers, Scamers all!

  • Nuclear too expensive
    June 30, 2009 1:07 p.m.

    It costs billions to build just one nuclear power plant, and no one wants to insure one.

    Add to that the costs of toxic waste storage, security, decommissioning, etc., and there is no point in building any more nuclear plants, especially since this type of fission energy will be replaced by nuclear fusion energy.

  • Thomas Edison
    June 30, 2009 12:58 p.m.

    proposed neighborhood power generation to avoid the losses associated with power transmission over miles...now even hundreds of miles.

    This might be yet another piece to investigate for a very large and complex problem.

  • RedShirt
    June 30, 2009 12:47 p.m.

    To "Bill | 11:28 a.m." why waste the spent rods by sending them to the center of the earth. If we do like much of Europe, and reprocess them, we have a nearly limitless supply of fuel.

  • Geek Engineer
    June 30, 2009 12:46 p.m.

    re: Why all the focus on solar? | 3:15 p.m.
    It's not just one answer.
    Power is needed in peaks and valleys over the 24 hour day.
    Peak times are mornings, through-out the day (business hours) and late afternoon/early evenings.
    Most Powerplants run at a constant state.
    Hydro-electric dams open and close to regulate output.
    By agumenting with a constant state system, power needs can be met without constantly producing excessive and wasted energy.

    Since Solar plants produce during the day-light hours, so they are considered an agumentation supply source for the extra needs during the day.

  • Thinkin' Man
    June 30, 2009 12:17 p.m.

    RE: Dee

    I've been active in energy research for 30 years, and that's what my conclusions are based on. Anyone who researches energy without bias and prejudice will place solar last on the list of practical, desirable, or affordable energy sources on the large scale.

  • Bill
    June 30, 2009 11:28 a.m.

    Solar is a nice add on as it produces power during the peak usage time; the middle of the day. Wind has a niche too. Bottom line is that our manufacturing cost are high in this country, but uber cheap electricy can offset a large portion of this. We need to build a LOT more nuclear power plants. Can someone explain why we can't just dig a hole 5 miles deep in the desert, below any water table, and encase the spent rods in concrete?

  • Add nuclear to mix to lower cost
    June 30, 2009 11:13 a.m.

    I like the idea of using renuable energy, that will never run out and that the United States doesn't have to import.

    However presently this energy is more expensive than oil, coal and gas,

    Doesn't it make sense to remove the barriers to nuclear power, as well as allow reprocesing of waste so that the low cost of nuclear can be averaged in with the cost of renuables, so the American consumer will not be hit with a big bill.

    When Obama was running for office, he spoke out in favor of Nuclear energy, but now there is only silence.

  • Uhura
    June 30, 2009 10:38 a.m.

    Our home is totally off the grid with wind and solar power. When all the fossil fuels run out, we will still have power. We don't use mirrors or water with our solar production, but we have plenty of power - even through the night.

    It's time for a change.

  • Dee
    June 30, 2009 10:27 a.m.

    Concentrating Solar Power plants, which are producing power now in AZ and CA and throughout Europe and other parts of the world don't use batteries and don't use cadmium and other dangerous minerals. They also can store the heated liquid that is produced for more than 24 hours and be generating electricity 24 hours a day, in other words, when the sun isn't shining.

    You naysayers ought to do your research and investigate the facts instead of just believing something. Just because you believe something doesn't make it so.

  • Thinkin' Man
    June 30, 2009 7:56 a.m.

    "Energy storage" with solar means batteries. Batteries are made of toxic heavy metals that must be mined. The batteries must be replaced every 3-4 years, and if it's a big solar facility that's a massive number of batteries.

    Only one small start-up company in California recycles solar panels.

    The oil pollution examples cited above are all in foreign countries where modern standards are not in place. America is better than that.

    The facts indicate solar energy is too expensive, too inefficient, takes up too much land, and is impractical in most of the US because of weather/sunlight (including northern Utah). We have better alternatives, and the fact that we're not pursuing nuclear energy and domestic oil & gas indicates we're ruled by feelings over facts. That will be our downfall.

  • Cats
    June 30, 2009 6:44 a.m.

    I'm totally in favor of solar. In fact, our new home is totally solar off grid. However, WE STILL NEED TO DRILL!!!!

  • Many good alternatives
    June 30, 2009 6:39 a.m.

    It is good if Utah or any other place in the nation can significantly contribute to energy via solar, wind or geothermal.

    I recently read of a company in (Arizona or New Mexico) who is working on a solar project where mirrors are focused on a tower, and it will provide 24 hour electricity, because it heats salt to over 1000 degrees and this is enough stored heat to continue to turn water into steam even during the night hours. The Air Force is hindering the company though because they don't want this solar power plant so close to the Air Base.

    Another thing we need to look at is reprocessing of nuclear waste. The French do it and they have much less nuclear waste as a result. Most of their electricity is nuclear and it works very well for them. This is less expensive than wind and is very clean.

    We ought to consider the possibility of making use of Yellow Stone. I read a study where this could provide more than 60 billion watts of power, about30 nuclear power plants worth. It could probably be done in a way that wasn't too visible.

  • Skeptical
    June 29, 2009 8:35 p.m.

    Renewable energy is great, in theory.

    However, delivering it at affordable (not competitive, just affordable) rates without massive government subsidies and tax exemptions and the like is impossible.

    Maybe we could buy wind/solar power from Utah Power at some price, perhaps even near what traditional sources cost. And then pay an extra $5,000 a year so the government can subsidize the renewables? Not a very good idea in my book.

    While renewables do eliminate the wealth transfer to Saudis for oil, we will still need many new power plants to have the capacity to deliver power at time when wind/solar sources are unable to produce. The "storable" concept mentioned above is just not close to being cost effective, although theoretically it can provide some energy.

    If we really need power, just quit selling the coal produced power from the Intermountain Power Plant in Delta to California. They don't like nasty coal stuff anyway, so let them put windmills on their hilltops and cover their mountains with solar panels.

    Every enviornmentalist should be forced to use the renewable stuff and pay the actual cost, since they like it so much.

  • Joseph Atwater
    June 29, 2009 7:35 p.m.

    Wake up America...GOOGLE.....Stirling Engine + SunPower!
    250,000Homes in Southern Calif powerd 24hrs a day on the 40Acre Solar Grid in Death Valley

    Solar for AMERICA

    Oil for War Mungers
    Free solar for Freedom

  • Anonymous
    June 29, 2009 7:31 p.m.

    Solar Power not Spent Rods


  • utahenergyideas
    June 29, 2009 7:03 p.m.

    We need clean energy, clean air, clean water, clean land and energy independence. We also need to encourage energy efficiency and technologies such as ground source heat pumps.

    We may not agree with each other re: CO2 cap/trade, taxes, or our effects on climate.

    We do need more renewable energy. Coal is reportedly being removed fast enough in Utah that it could last only 15 to 45 years for use in Utah at current rates.

    We will need more electricity to offset a reduction in the use of foreign oil, and we can't afford to just rely on coal.

    Do we have existing dams that we could add hydro power to, without putting more land underwater, hurting our rivers and/or wildlife?

    It has been pointed out that renewable energy will help the state's economy in places that coal, or gas won't. Renewable energy being added to the mix will increase the life of the Utah coal economy.

    Having goals to rely on renewable energy and energy savings to make up the increased demand on power is good.

  • Kaparowitz Lockdown
    June 29, 2009 5:56 p.m.

    All of these touchy-feely projects are show ponies and not practical. The percentage of power generated per acre of land is a fraction of what we need. It's outrageous that in the era of clean coal technology, the U.S. has enough domestic low-sulphur, high-btu coal just locked away in Southern utah to fuel most U.S. domestic power plants for 200 years. But enviro wackos have succeeded in scaring everyone that coal is "dirty." Just on the Kaiparowitz alone, there is a coal deposit that is 25 feet thick, 20 miles wide, and 40 miles long, of high BTU, low-sulphur coal, and it could be mined with minimal impact to the landscape -- visible only at the "portals."

  • Utahn
    June 29, 2009 5:24 p.m.

    I think you were missing the point of other posters. Every time we want to turn even a shovelfull of dirt and impact statement must be done. Environmentalist always decry the development of our wilderness. This will be developing our wilderness and it will be interesting to see if the Sierra Club and other groups sue to stop this project the same way they would if this was an oil or gas drill. I doubt they will since it is all political anyways and all about the all mighty dollar.

  • Captn Kirk
    June 29, 2009 5:09 p.m.

    I think they are talking about ACTIVE SOLAR (mirrors heating water to drive steam generators). And to those who think that solar energy is 12 hour a day thing, think again... ever hear of energy storage? Pump water up the hill during the day, and generate electricity at night by running it down hill through turbines. Hellloooo

  • Great!
    June 29, 2009 4:54 p.m.

    We should all be for new sources of domestic energy!

    Now, if we can just get these idiots to stop talking about taking away our current sources, we'd be golden!

  • basinboy56
    June 29, 2009 4:39 p.m.

    Thinkin' Man: You nailed it. There is bound to be some wacko fringe enviromental group, if not some of the more well-known domestic terrorist enviro groups, that will find a way to stop these projects because they will adversely impact some plant, bird or animal that no one has ever heard of.

  • ClWelker
    June 29, 2009 4:36 p.m.

    Kevin: The Cadmium/Tellurium issue is not an environmental impact if you recycle the panels at the end of their useful life. The heavy meatl risk is in the recycling, not in the use.Its is also an essential heavy metal in the PC you are using right now.

  • Drinkin' Man
    June 29, 2009 4:35 p.m.

    On the subject of living with oil wells.
    Ever been to that oil-slick of beach at Corpus Christi? Would you like some Alaskan crab from the Valdez spill? Yummy!
    You've never been to the Persian Gulf I'm sure. I have. The water pollution from oil production is staggering. A sheen of oil covers the surface of the water in every bay I saw.
    Truth is the biggest threat to this country is the billions of $ flowing to Saudi Arabia to fund our oil habit. Can't eliminate it. But this is a good start. Who are these people getting all weepy over some scrub brush in Nevada? The best use for that desert wasteland is solar farms. Bummed about losing your "view"? Jeez, we're talking solar power here. Zero pollution while in operation. No toxic fumes, no cancerous effects, doesn't even kill salmon! We must have power. If we lose a bunch of useless desert, no worries. Oh, the plants do not work 24/7? Hey chief, it's called scheduled maintenance, at nighttime! And the payback is, we get the oil monkey off our backs!!

  • Dell
    June 29, 2009 4:31 p.m.

    I'm for solar and wind, but the article is misleading. It only talks about capacity, not actual production which is about 1/3 or less of capacity.

    Any companies that build solar also get at least 40% of the project paid for by taxpayers in the form of direct subsidies and tax breaks. Probably will get land lease discounts as well.

  • Casey McCarthy
    June 29, 2009 4:20 p.m.


    You need to let go of your obviously inbred hatred of all things Bush and live in the here and now. The points concerning environmental impact are valid and need to be discussed. The cost associated with the manufacture, capture and delivery of large scale solar farms and their overall impact on the environment needs to be compared to today's current methods for oil and coal recovery and production. Want to be fair and honest? Look at the whole picture and stop the bashing.

  • Robert
    June 29, 2009 4:17 p.m.

    This is a bit two-faced of our Interior Secratary. First he cancels the legal bids of several tracts of land several miles away from any national park for oil and gas exploration and production. Now he wants to lock up land to put solar pannels which are equally damaging to the land not to mention the harmful chemicals required to produce solar cells. Like a previous comment noted, "pick your poision".

  • Kevin Greene
    June 29, 2009 3:22 p.m.

    Kirk - please get a clue. Every gigawatt we produce from our own land, mobilizing the sunlight that falls there every day, is energy we don't have to burn fossil fuels to produce.
    This is a fine reversal from one more corrupt action, late in the game, by Team Bush: a 2008 move to lock up virtually all the BLM lands and delay solar-energy development, by pretending that long environmental reviews were needed. This, from the Administration which had such a dismal record on the environment, just about the same credibility as Iran has in running elections.
    Now, the solar energy industry needs to get busy and build those plants.
    That's better for all of us.
    Especially those who live in the Great Basin states.

  • Thinkin' Man
    June 29, 2009 3:16 p.m.

    Covering these valleys with cadmium-laced PV cells can't be good for the resident animals. It will be telling whether environmental impact statements are done and whether environmentalists give these projects a free pass.

    At least oil and gas can be safely produced in a farm, orchard, vineyard, or wildlife refuge as is has been done in California and the Gulf Coast for decades. Try that with solar panels, or try windmills in a bird refuge!

  • Why all the focus on solar?
    June 29, 2009 3:15 p.m.

    What good is solar power generation when half of a given 24 hour period it produces no power? Are we going to become a 3rd World country where there is mandatory or rolling blackouts at night because solar power only works in the day time? Same thing with wind power. What happens when the wind doesn't blow that day?

  • Exciting progress
    June 29, 2009 3:03 p.m.

    areas under evaluation could generate nearly 100,000 megawatts of solar electricity.

    Wow, now were talkin!

    (Kirk, did you read the article? These lands will be opened up for commercial solar development.)

  • Ken Saladczar
    June 29, 2009 2:59 p.m.

    There goes the viewshed. Out with the carbon in with the looking at acres and acres of solar panels on these lands that the granola crowd holds so dear. Pick your poison.

  • Kirk Strobel
    June 29, 2009 2:35 p.m.

    Great. One more reason to lock up public land from the public.