This initiative enjoys bipartisan support (which is very rare these days). And if it succeeds, it could help dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions – while simultaneously helping to create new revenue streams for the US federal government.
So how could anyone be against this project? It seems like all positives across the board.
Yes and no.
Let’s take a look.
Reasons Why We Shouldn’t Begin Installing Solar on Public Lands
Large-scale solar investments are great for greenhouse gas reductions. But they often carry hidden environmental costs as well. You end up destroying delicate ecosystems, displacing wildlife, killing birds, and endangering species.
This is why you often see environmentalists battling solar advocates all over the country. On the surface, they champion the same goals. But when you dig down into the details, large-scale solar isn’t as “green” as many would have you believe.
A much better approach is to install more rooftop solar or ground-based PV systems on areas of land that have already been developed.
And believe us, there is a lot of potential there.
If we adopted this approach in California (i.e. installing solar on rooftops, parking spaces, and developed areas), we could cover our state’s electricity needs 5 times over.
This is why we would much prefer preserving public lands and diverting resources towards distributed solar power.
But there is a flipside to this argument.
Why We Should Begin Installing Solar on Public Lands Immediately
Solar is solar. And the more PV capacity we bring on, the healthier our planet becomes. But there’s another piece to this puzzle.
The next president (i.e. Trump) could undo much of the renewable energy progress we’ve already made so far. This is not some wild prediction – this is based on his numerous promises throughout the campaign.
The sooner we get the ball rolling, the harder it will be for an environmentally unfriendly administration to “uninstall” all of this new solar capacity on public lands.
Equally important, there are only so many different tracts of public land currently available for energy development. And it’s entirely possible that the choicest bits could go to fossil fuel resources like oil, gas, and coal.
This is why it’s so important for the solar industry to stick a flag in the sand and mark out its territory before it’s too late.
We will continue to keep you updated on this developing story. In fact, 2017 promises to be a very interesting year for solar power, the environment, and America in general.