02/21/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Solar Rush Of '09: California Desert Land Selling Like Hotcakes

Not since the Gold Rush has there been such a stampede to stake out land in California and surrounding states, except this time, solar energy is the prize. The Bureau of Land Management has been swamped with applications for solar projects across millions of acres of desert since July.

The bureau has seen a 78% increase in applications, now totaling 223. The applicants are all looking to capitalize on desert land in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado, with California leading with 107 applications alone. All of the projects are 10 MW or larger, with many proposing hundreds of megawatts. All together the projects would take up 2.3 million acres of land and would generate many, many gigawatts (the 75 projects listed on the BLM website total 51.6 GW and that's only a third of the applicants).

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