There is an idea floating in the ether (or at least in my ether) that there is enough sunny federal land in Nevada to power the entire United States with solar power.
Some very rough math suggests it’s possible, requiring just over 11% of Nevada’s federal land. None of that includes space for batteries for storage or the massive transmission cables needed to export everything — both of which would greatly increase the footprint — and such a concentrated installation wouldn’t be very resilient or environmentally sound.
The point is, there’s room left! The federal government owns a lot of land in other sunny and windy places, not just Nevada.
So why don’t we have more sun and wind on public lands?
The Biden administration hopes to remove at least one roadblock. This week, the Department of the Interior announced a 50% cut in rental and capacity fees (a fee assessed based on how much power is produced) in an effort to encourage more solar and wind development on federal land. (Geothermal isn’t getting any love in this policy change for whatever reason.) Utility-scale wind and solar projects can incur lease costs of millions of dollars a year, so the boost could be significant.