Posted by Michael Hughes February 23, 2010–Please leave any comments you wish.
Would you rather have 20 square miles of PV panels on the open plains perhaps desecrating the gramma and buffalo grass in that area or would you rather have a coal burning, carbon spewing, fossil fuel chomping power plant? Better yet how about the contrast of PV panels versus a nuclear power plant. Notice the contrast, which one do you feel better about? With which one do you feel safer?
In order to replace a utility-scale coal plant, renewable energy projects also have to be utility scale. And for solar plants, that may mean covering thousands of acres of land with PV panels. This has some environmentalists concerned about how those panels will affect local ecosytems. An argument can always be made for one side or the other, it’s American and keeps consultants employed.
Bioligists from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have started a study to look at how the land under solar panel arrays can be restored. Why don’t we treat the PV panels like wheat crops and rotate them? Better yet, let’s put them in the desert where there are very few plants at minimal risk. A perfect spot would be alkaline fields or salt flats where nothing grows. While I think it is important to reclaim lands where a mine has scraped forests and green areas into a moon-like landscapes I am far from feeling it is important to save every single blade of grass. If you are buying a home in Boulder you might want to look at a home with a photovoltaic system integrated into the home.