Regulators to Approve 1.5 Gigawatts of Solar in Mojave

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After decades of product development, years of lining up project financing and land deals, and months of rancorous battles with environmentalists, it appears that the long-anticipated blooming of huge solar plants in the Mojave Desert is nearly at hand. Three massive projects are due to receive the California Energy Commion's approval soon.

August is turning out to be a critical month for concentrating solar thermal developers. The California Energy Commission's siting committee has issued recommendations for not one, but three projects over the past week, for a whopping total of 1.6 GW. These are decisions that could pave the way for final approvals by the commission before the year's over...

The sizes of the three projects combined will dwarf just about any solar project (either PV or thermal) that has ever come on line in the country. The largest complex of solar power plants is in California, but the 354 megawatts of solar thermal power stations were built from 1984 to 1991. The largest project that uses solar panels is the 25-megawatt facility in Florida commissioned by Florida Power & Light only last October.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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