The Mojave Desert, straddling California and Nevada, has been called the Saudi Arabia of solar power. It’s a clean energy developer’s dream: vast open lands, roughly equal in size to the entire state of New Mexico, with an endless bounty of heat from the sun.
Hundreds of thousands of acres of federal land in the Mojave have been made available for solar plants, and applications have been pouring in over the last few years from the likes of Goldman Sachs, California utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric and multiple Silicon Valley-backed startups.
But as developers scramble to set up their projects, some scientists and conservationists are warning us not to forget vital ecosystems in the process. What about the threatened cacti and the ants that rely on their nectar? they ask. Or the birds that nest in tree-like Mojave yucca, a cousin of the iconic Joshua tree? Striking a balance