Without a coherent national energy policy, it was inevitable that those promoting large-scale, centralized solar installations would finally come head to head with environmentalists who are alarmed at the wholesale takeover of desert habitat. Today's New York Times quotes Donna Charpied, a jojoba farmer who is also policy advocate for the Desert Communities Protection Campaign of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice.
“'We’re tired of everyone looking at the desert like a wasteland,' said Donna Charpied, who lives with her husband, Larry, in Desert Center, Calif., where they have been farming jojoba, a native shrub cultivated for its oil, for 27 years...... Jim Harvey, a founder of the Alliance for Responsible Energy Policy, an environmental group in Joshua Tree, said: 'Our position is that none of this is needed. We support renewable energy, and we support California’s renewable energy targets, but we think it can be done through rooftop solar.'”
Proponents of distributed generation have long argued that decentralized solar production, like the program that has been so successful in Germany, provides greater reliability and efficiency, given that whenever energy is transported, a portion of the energy is lost. California's aggressive goals for renewable energy are caursing applications for concentrated solar installations to soar, and a veritable solar land rush is taking place.
Germany, with vastly fewer land resources and fewer sunny days, has made solar work by passing a feed-in tariff, which pays people for installing solar panels, thus growing the industry from the ground up. The result has been 40,000 solar jobs and a worldwide leadership position in the solar industry. Amazing what a unified policy can do.