July 8 (Bloomberg New Energy Finance) -- The U.S. Departments of Energy and the Interior have picked a former nuclear site in Nevada to be transformed into a zone for testing “cutting-edge” solar energy technologies.
The research will take place on 25 square miles of land owned by the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, an area larger than the size of Manhattan, the Energy Department said today in a statement.
The area lies in the southwest corner of the Nevada Test Site, about 65 miles (104.6 kilometers) northwest of Las Vegas, where the U.S. military used to detonate atomic weapons. The Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration will oversee the project, according to the statement.
The DOE said it selected the Nevada site after evaluating 26 possible locations in terms of solar conditions, suitable terrain and other infrastructure needed for solar development.
Projects developed on public land “can significantly reduce the costs and environmental impacts of utility-scale solar power facilities and demonstrate the commercial viability of these facilities,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today at a press conference announcing the plan.
“The Nevada Test Site can and should be a proving ground for new ideas and for attracting new clean energy industries that will help our state and country compete globally,” Harry Reid, Nevada’s senior senator and the Senate majority leader, said at the press conference.
The DOE said it will collaborate with the Interior Department to fund required environmental reviews and complete infrastructure planning. The agencies also will work with the U.S. Air Force to identify and address potential problems with locating the demonstration zone in the chosen location, which is near other military installations.
Detailed design is scheduled to begin in September, including determinations concerning number, size and technology for individual demonstration projects. All necessary environmental reviews are expected to be completed by June 2011, and construction is slated to start as soon as September 2011, according to an interagency memorandum of understanding released today.
To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Andrew Herndon in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org.