The agency has already approved 17 large-scale solar energy projects on public lands that are expected to produce nearly 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 1.8 million homes. The department estimated the resource potential of the newly identified development zones at 23,700 megawatts, enough to power seven million homes, by 2030.
Wow! 23,700 megawatts! That’s a lot of megawatts! Right?
If all 285,000 acres were covered with solar PV arrays, the “Hot Spots” could have a generating capacity of about 40,000 MW at a cost of about $252 billion.If the same 285,000 acres were covered with natural gas-fired power stations, the “Hot Spots” could have a generating capacity of about 1.8 million MW (1.8 Terawatts) at a cost of about $1.5 trillion.
To put this in a little better perspective…
US electric utilities added an average of 22,734 MW of generating capacity per year from 2001-2010. If the “Hot Spots” acreage was devoted to that annual capacity growth…
Solar PV would consume all 285,000 acres in 21 months at a cost of $143 billion per year.
It would take 80 years for natural gas-fired plants to cover the 285,000 acres at a cost of $19 billion per year.
If every acre of the newly designated Federal land was developed for solar power, it would cover less than two years of the average annual incremental growth in US generating capacity.
It really is ironic that President Obama thinks that, “Even if we drilled every square inch of this country right now, we’d still have to rely disproportionately on other countries for their oil,” while his administration crows about setting aside 285,000 acres of public land for solar power development that can’t even match our average incremental generation capacity growth for two years.
I wonder if the people who oppose developing ANWR because, by itself, it might only cover a few years of our total oil consumption, are simply giddy about “Boot” Salazar’s latest boondoggle…