In fact, the president approved one such project, called the Crimson Solar Project, last month. It will stretch across 2,500 acres of public lands in the desert of Southern California. It is expected to provide enough electricity to power 85,000 homes. But there's one problem: The desert is not a barren wasteland.
The desert is an undeveloped ecosystem, said Steven Grodsky, co-founder of the Wild Energy Initiative. Anytime there is a major disturbance in an ecosystem that has a generally low frequency of natural disturbance, you might shake things up a bit, he added.
Grodsky, who is also an assistant professor of natural resources and the environment at Cornell University, has spent years studying how solar projects could affect soil, plants and animals in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts. Some of his studies have been published. However, more is needed to better understand how large-scale solar projects threaten desert ecosystems.