US BLM Offers 90000 Acres For Solar Development

Highlights :

  • The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has launched its largest solicitation for solar development to date, seeking interest for utility scale solar energy development on nearly 90,000 acres of public land across Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.
  • Additionally, the US Department of the Interior has given clearance to 2 utility scale solar power plants with 465 MW combined capacity, to be accompanied by up to 400 MW of battery storage to come up on public lands in California’s Riverside County.

Solar energy is getting a boost in the US. The country’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has launched its largest solicitation for solar development to date, seeking interest for utility scale solar energy development on nearly 90,000 acres of public land across Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. Additionally, the US Department of the Interior has given clearance to 2 utility scale solar power plants with 465 MW combined capacity, to be accompanied by up to 400 MW of battery storage to come up on public lands in California’s Riverside County.

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BLM manages close to 245 million acres of public land in 12 Western states of the US, including Alaska. The Interior Department is mandated to permit 25 GW of solar, wind and geothermal energy on public lands by 2025 which will be helpful in the country achieving a CO2 free power sector by 2035.

Launched on December 20, 2021, BLM will accept written expressions of interest (EOI) or nominations for its latest tender through January 20, 2022. The tendered land will be distributed in the following Solar Energy Zones (SEZ): 9,712 acres in Antonito Southeast SEZ, Colorado; 1,064 acres in DeTilla Gulch SEZ, Colorado; 2,650 acres in Los Mogotes East SEZ, Colorado; 25,069 acres in Dry Lake Valley North SEZ, Nevada; 4,596 acres in Gold Point SEZ, Nevada; 16,534 acres in Millers SEZ, Nevada; and 29,964 acres in Afton SEZ, New Mexico.

Last month, BLM awarded 3 competitive solar leases on 4,800 acres of land within Milford Flats SEZ.. The agency expects to finalize competitive solar leasing for 8,500 acres within Gillespie, Brenda and Agua Caliente SEZs in Arizona before the end of 2021.

As for the Department of the Interior, in addition to granting clearance to two solar plants, with 465 MW combined capacity, the department will approve another 500 MW Oberon PV project in the near future as part of efforts to promote onshore renewable energy production in the country.

While Arica Solar Project is planned to have 265 MW, Victory Pass Solar Project will be built as a 200 MW facility, and both will be developed by indirect subsidiaries of Clearway Energy Group LLC that acquired SunPower’s 4.7 GW utility scale solar power development pipeline in September 2018 (see Clearway Acquires SunPower’s 4.7 GW PV Pipeline).

These 3 solar projects, approved by BLM, with around 1 GW of capacity are the initial projects approved under Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) that aims to use 10.8 million acres of desert regions of 7 California counties for renewable energy while conserving native ecosystems. Altogether, these facilities are likely to incur an infrastructure investment of $689 million.

Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland said the department will continue to work in partnership with states, cities and tribes to make ‘historic investments in boosting climate resiliency, advancing clean energy projects, and replacing aging infrastructure’.

There are 54 more utility scale onshore clean energy projects proposed on public lands that the BLM is currently processing. If and when cleared, these projects will add more than 27.5 GW of renewable energy to the country’s western electric grid.

As of November 2021, BLM had approved 36 wind, 37 solar and 48 geothermal projects on its managed lands, representing over 12 GW of power.

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