Last update:
2021-02-17

Gemini Solar Project, California, USA

The planning and development of the largest mega solar project in the USA catalysed opposition from organisations such as environmental conservation, Native American, and union groups who wished to protect environmental and cultural resources.


Description:

In 2007, during Obama’s campaign trail he promised to invest $150 billion in renewables over the next ten years as part of an energy plan to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 [1]. This proposition increased attention on climate change mitigation technologies. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Gemini Solar Project, California, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:California
Location of conflict:Las Vegas
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Large-scale solar plants
Specific commodities:Land
Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Gemini Solar Project that will cost an estimated $1 billion is planned to be a 690 MW project using photovoltaic (PV) technology around 50 km away from Las Vegas (20). In the past concentrated solar power (CSP) was popular with developers because it is not intermittent and can continue producing energy throughout the night. However, it has been fraught with controversy such as at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System where environmentalists have been furious about the damage done to birds and insects and this has influenced public opinion (21). Recently, solar projects have started to also contain large quantities of batter storage. Gemini, that is being developed by Arevia Power and Quinbrook infrastructure Partners, will be able to store 380MW in its batteries meaning that it will be able to provide energy all night (11).

Project area:7,100
Level of Investment:1,000,000,000
Affected Population:650,000
Start of the conflict:18/07/2018
Company names or state enterprises:Arevia Power from United States of America - Developer
NV from United States of America
Relevant government actors:Bureau of Land Management
Nevada PUCN
International and Finance InstitutionsQuinbook Infrastructure Partners
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:1. Basin and Range Watch
https://www.basinandrangewatch.org/
2. Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee
http://www.tortoise-tracks.org/wptortoisetracks/
3. The Wilderness Society
https://www.wilderness.org/
4.Mojave Desert Blog
https://www.mojavedesertblog.com/
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Several Indian tribes
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:The project has been approved and construction will begin in the near future.
Development of alternatives:An alternative offered by Basin and Range Watch is to construct solar generating structures in car parks in already developed areas instead of using the desert ecosystem.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:This will be the largest of the solar mega projects in the USA. There are Native American communities and environmental conservation organisations who oppose the project but, nevertheless, it was approved and will be constructed.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[9] Bureau of Land Management releases final environmental impact statement proposed Gemini project
[click to view]

[10] Protest resolution report Gemini Solar Project
[click to view]

[12] Record of Decision Gemini Solar Project
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[8] Basin and Range Watch Gemini
[click to view]

[13] US Fish and Wildlife Service Desert Tortoise
[click to view]

[15] Basin and Range Watch Tortoise Translocation
[click to view]

[16] US Forest and Wildlife Service Status of the Desert Tortoise
[click to view]

[1] Obama Energy Factsheet
[click to view]

[18] Solar Panels Mojave Desert Tortoise
[click to view]

[19] Greens against Solar Power
[click to view]

[21] The unexpected environmental drawbacks of concentrated solar power plants
[click to view]

[11] Largest US Solar project gets final nod of approval
[click to view]

[17] Five minute expert Desert Tortoise Mojave Desert
[click to view]

[2] US solar zones in place ready for big projects
[click to view]

[4] Secretary Jewell State California announce landmark renewable energy conservation plan
[click to view]

[3] Summary of energy policy act
[click to view]

[14] National Park Service Desert Tortoise
[click to view]

[20] Department of Interior approves plans for 690 MW Gemini solar project with 1400 MWH battery
[click to view]

[5] across US green mega projects to power cities aren't playing well in mayberry
[click to view]

[6] BLM Solar Energy Zones
[click to view]

[7] Trump's America First Energy Plan puts industry first environment last
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:B.Hymans
Last update17/02/2021
Comments
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