In one of the stranger stories of the week in renewable energy starved America, the Bureau of Land Management decided to initiate a moratorium on new solar energy project applications while officials conduct an environmental review.
While the BLM has a hundred and thirty or so projects already in the pipeline, they apparently haven’t finished processing a single one. The Desert Tortoise makes its home in the area, but one has to wonder why the BLM is acting like the species when it comes to solar. When it comes to other energy types, most notaby oil and gas, the BLM acts much more like the roadrunner…meep meep!
While it is great that the BLM is interested in the environmental review and the vitality of the Desert Tortoise and other critters, there’s probably a better way to help both the solar industry and endangered species.
Solar Companies have been very quick to be critical of the decision.
The decision may affect California’s AB 32 Law, designed to lower the state’s carbon footprint.
Now what does all this have to do with maps?
Well, a lot actually. Where are the existing leases for solar energy? Looking at the solar energy potential map in the link above, one can assume that the vast majority of leases would be in the southwest. That assumption would be correct. Check out the map below, in flash format, which shows where in the US the lease applications are. The color of the dot indicates how large the lease is (and ostensibly how much energy the power plant can produce). I don’t have the numbers of estimated watts. If you scroll over the dots you’ll see the acerage number followed by the name of the lease, if available.
The BLM’s excellent GIS department is the source for the data. Hey, at least they’re getting that right!