More solar power pipe dreams?

The Interior Department is pushing ahead with plans to pave over the desert north of Las Vegas with more than 3,000 acres of solar panels, according to the Las Vegas newspaper.

Three companies are in the running to erect panels on federal public land in the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone near Interstate 15 and Highway 93 — NV Energy on 660 acres with 150 megawatts, First Solar on 1,700 acres with 200 megawatts and Invenergy on 715 acres with 130 megawatts.

The story says the three projects could generate enough energy to power 120,000 homes. The question is: Where are those homes?

Interior official shows map of solar energy zone. (R-J photo)

Perhaps California needs more solar power to meet its renewable energy requirement of 33 percent of all power by 2020, but Nevada is on track to cover its legislatively dictated 25 percent by 2025. Those standards are completely artificial and ignore the demands of the market or the cost.

In fact, the PUC turned down NV Energy’s bid to build a 200-megawatt photovoltaic facility on the Moapa Indian reservation because it does need the power. The company only needs 54 megawatts and that can be much more cheaply acquired by building or buying standard combustion turbine technology at about a fifth of the cost of solar infrastructure.

If you build it, who will buy it? And at what price?

p.s. Speaking of clean energy, all the papers made a big deal of China cutting a deal with Obama to cut carbon emissions, but you won’t read much about China balking at actually allowing monitoring to see if they are living up to the deal. Told you so.