TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Solar power plants are great at reducing Greenhouse gases but they do take up a lot of land in order to produce the amount of power needed. A new study published by the Carnegie Institution for Science and Stanford University indicates that many farms are harming the diversity found in the desert landscape.
Many of the solar plants are constructed on undeveloped and untouched lands. The land being used plays host to sensitive wildlife and vegetation that is vital to the desert landscape. The study does indicate that many of the sites being used in California could be built on previously developed land that would cause less of an environmental impact.
The study shedded light on the amount of land that soon could be developed by solar farms and the land area being used could reach 27,500 square miles or the size of South Carolina. That estimate is used by the more aggressive approach to switch over to solar power.
"Solar takes out a lot of territory, right? It obliterates everything," University of California-Santa Cruz ecologist Barry Sinervo said. "There is as much plant biodiversity in the Mojave as there is in a redwood forest. The key part of this is, do we want to tile out the last largest wilderness area that we have, which is the Western desert?"
Only 28 percent of solar farms are built on agricultural land and another 15 percent was built on previously developed land. That leaves 57 percent of solar farms have been built on pristine desert never touched by man before.