California Brightens With Proposal Solar Projects

State planners have recommended approval of three large-scale solar thermal power projects in California, which means the California Energy Commission could act on them within months. However, funding is still not fully in place and environmental challenges are possible, so significant challenges remain.

However, the projects are impressive, and together could generate 1.6 gigawatts of power, according to earth2tech. The projects in Southern California's desert by BrightSource, Abengoa Solar and Solar Millennium would be a big step in the emerging solar energy field.

In addition, California regulators today approved a 250-megawatt solar power plant in Riverside County. PG&E is buying the power, according to this report by Bloomberg.

There's another ambitious proposal out there too. This one is closer to home, consisting of thousands of acres of fallow farmland in the Westlands Water District. It's pretty ambitious, requiring decades to build out.

As proposed, the Westlands Solar Park would generate as much power as several power plants, according to this report in the New York Times. The idea is to put energy-producing plants on used land. And solar is a strong resource in the San Joaquin Valley where the sun beats down relentlessly during summer. Plus, the land is flat and close to transmission lines.

We'll see where all this goes. But solar could prove to be a big player in the California utility market.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley