Element Power, a company that develops renewable energy products, has just finalized its plans for a hybrid solar-wind farm. The Wildflower Renewable Energy Farm Project will be located in California’s Antelope Valley. The Antelope Valley, part of the Mojave Desert that lies in northern Los Angeles County, is an ideal location for harvesting both wind and solar power. Before it can be built, though, it will need to overcome some local opposition.
The planned site for the energy farm is about 3,700 square acres, and only 840 of those acres will be permanently disturbed by the new solar panels and wind turbines. The majority of the acreage will be left open for recreation, wildlife, and native flora and fauna. Of particular concern is the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, where during springtime an incredible amount of poppies blanket the landscape. The land is also host to owls and a variety of other predatory birds.
The farm itself will be divided into a northern portion and a southern portion. Due to the uneven topography to the south, all of the solar panels will be located in the northern part of the territory to reduce the labor costs and environmental strain associated with leveling the land. Element is dedicated to keeping the impact on the environment to a minimum; they will leave 1,000 acres in the south undeveloped so that the land can still be used by local wildlife and park visitors.
The northern portion of the park will be fenced off to protect people from exposed electrical wiring, which worried some residents who didn’t want their previously unblemished scenery to look like a prison. To alleviate the problem, Element will leave space under the fences for animals to come and go, and the company will not use barbed wire at the top of the fences. They will also mask the fences behind afghan pines.
Additionally, new technology for wind turbines allows fewer turbines to be used. While older wind farms contain a liberal amount of turbines that mar the landscape, areas in the Antelope Valley farm will have as few as 5 turbines per 500 acres. With the turbines more spaced out, they will have less aesthetic impact on the area.
Generally, support for the project is strong, though there is opposition from residents closest to the proposed site who will practically have the energy farm right outside of their garage doors. But polls show that total opposition to the project tops out at 43 percent and that is if the project will affect the poppy refuge.
Aside from the project’s obvious environmental benefits, it will also increase the number of jobs in the area. Element will release its estimates for the project’s economic benefits in two weeks, which will have more detailed information about ways in which the Wildflower Renewable Energy Farm Project will help the local economy.
Article by Chris Keenan is a green and general blog writer. He writes for many sites including Precision Garage Door. Chris also maintains a personal house and garden blog. Article appearing courtesy EnergyRefuge.