Sunday, December 4, 2011

Images of Desert Sunlight Project Don't Lie

The news website MyDesert.com posted a video tour of First Solar's Desert Sunlight project under construction.  Once the project is finished, nearly 6 square miles of creosote bush scrub habitat for desert tortoises, kit fox, burrowing owls, and Mojave fringe-toed lizard will be destroyed just outside Joshua Tree National Park.  The Sierra Club and other national environmental organizations approved of the project, even though the photovoltaic solar panel technology could have been installed on rooftops or already-disturbed land without destroying wildlands.

Although the First Solar employee interviewed in the video feeds company talking points to the reporter, the images in the background cannot lie.  What was once ecologically intact desert on public lands has been bulldozed and flattened.   Here are some of the screenshots from the MyDesert.com video, with the video embedded below.  The pictures show thousands of steel poles drilled into the ground. The loss of topsoil and native vegetation will take centuries to recover once the project is long gone.  And now First Solar wants to repeat this destruction in the Ivanpah Valley for two more projects?

First Sunlight could have built this project on land that was already-disturbed.  Instead they found pristine desert next to a Joshua Tree National Park.  This is not green energy, and shame on the Sierra Club for pretending that this is a sustainable energy future. Image from MyDesert.com "Tour of First Solar's Desert Sunlight Solar Farm" video.
Nearly 6 square miles will be graded, and new transmission lines will need to be installed, leading to rate increases for electricity customers. Image from MyDesert.com "Tour of First Solar's Desert Sunlight Solar Farm" video.
Thousands of steel poles driven into the desert soil will soon be topped with photovoltaic panels.  The same panels could have been placed on rooftops or on land that was already-disturbed. Image from MyDesert.com "Tour of First Solar's Desert Sunlight Solar Farm" video.

Barbed-wire fences installed to keep citizens and wildlife off what used to be public land. Image from MyDesert.com "Tour of First Solar's Desert Sunlight Solar Farm" video.

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