Here are the top 8 reasons Solar Farms are devastating the California Desert Ecosystem:
1. Land use and Fragmentation: Large solar farms require a vast amount of land, which can result in habitat loss and fragmentation. This can have a significant impact on local ecosystems and wildlife, particularly in biologically sensitive areas.
2. Water use and Availability: Solar panels require a significant amount of water for cleaning, maintenance, and cooling. In regions where water is scarce, large-scale solar farms can put additional pressure on already limited water resources.
3. Habitat Destruction: Large solar farms can require a significant amount of land and can potentially disrupt or destroy the habitats of vulnerable plant and animal species that live in the affected areas. Even small changes in the landscape can have a significant impact on the ecosystem.
4. High Environmental Costs of Production: The manufacture, transport, and installation of solar panels entail a significant environmental cost, including greenhouse gas emissions due to the large amount of energy required to produce them.
5. Interference with traditional uses of Natural resources: Solar farms in the deserts can interfere with traditional uses of natural resources by indigenous communities, including grazing lands, hunting areas, and sacred sites.
6. Glare and Reflection: When sunlight reflects off solar panels, it can create strong, unpleasant glare that can be hazardous to drivers or pilots, and negatively impact nearby residents’ quality of life.
7. Temporary or permanent impact on the natural world: Solar farms require significant grading and foundation work before installation. This process can result in erosion, and the loss of plant and animal life which can take years to recover.
8. Disruption of the cultural and historical significance: Large solar farms can also negatively impact cultural and historical sites found in the area. This includes the root systems of indigenous people, archaeological finds, or nature preserves that hold significant historical, cultural, or ecological value.
How solar farms took over the California desert: ‘An oasis has become a dead sea’
Deep in the Mojave desert, about halfway between Los Angeles and Phoenix, a sparkling blue sea shimmers on the horizon. Visible from the I-10 highway, amid the parched plains and sun-baked mountains, it is an improbable sight: a deep blue slick stretching for miles across the Chuckwalla Valley, forming an endless glistening mirror.
But something’s not quite right. Closer up, the water’s edge appears blocky and pixelated, with the look of a low-res computer rendering, while its surface is sculpted in orderly geometric ridges, like frozen waves.
“We had a guy pull in the other day towing a big boat,” says Don Sneddon, a local resident. “He asked us how to get to the launch ramp to the lake. I don’t think he realised he was looking at a lake of solar panels.”
Over the last few years, this swathe of desert has been steadily carpeted with one of the world’s largest concentrations of solar power plants, forming a sprawling photovoltaic sea. On the ground, the scale is almost incomprehensible. The Riverside East Solar Energy Zone – the ground zero of California’s solar energy boom – stretches for 150,000 acres, making it 10 times the size of Manhattan.
It is a crucial component of the United States’ green energy revolution. Solar makes up about 3% of the US electricity supply, but the Biden administration hopes it will reach 45% by 2050, primarily by building more huge plants like this across the country’s flat, empty plains.
But there’s one thing that the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – the agency tasked with facilitating these projects on public land – doesn’t seem to have fully taken into account: the desert isn’t quite as empty as it thought. It might look like a barren wilderness, but this stretch of the Mojave is a rich and fragile habitat for endangered species and home to thousand-year-old carbon-capturing woodlands, ancient Indigenous cultural sites – and hundreds of people’s homes.
Cont reading: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/may/21/solar-farms-energy-power-california-mojave-desert