A recent study shows that if the United States built a concentrated solar power farm on one hundred square miles of land, it would provide enough energy to power the entire country. Media artist and activist Joseph DeLappe thinks he’s found a great candidate for the location deep in the Nevada desert. And to bring attention to it, he decided to brave the sweltering heat and take to a customized bicycle to draw a 460 mile line in the desert.
In the Nevada desert, Federally-owned lands which encompass the Nevada Test Site, Yucca Mountain, Nellis Air Force Range, and Area 51 just so happen to cover approximately that 100 square miles of space. This area is the largest peacetime military base in the world, and DeLappe suggests that we might re-think how we use that space to better provide for the needs of the country. It has previously been used for 928 nuclear tests, and continues to be a testing ground for bombs. It also continues to be used for US military training and for weapon, technology and energy development. Instead, DeLappe is suggesting that we might better serve our country by utilizing that space to provide enough energy for the entire country.
To bring attention to his cause, DeLappe rode a bicycle trailing a piece of chalk to outline this area. It took him 9 days of riding nearly 50 miles a day to fully encircle the space, using 246 pieces of homemade chalk. He spent about 7-8 hours each day riding, going through an average of 8-10 bottles of Gatorade per day, and the very necessary 5 tubes of sunscreen to battle the hot Nevada sun.
DeLappe’s idea isn’t meant necessarily to suggest that this is the only, or even the best location for such a solar installation, but simply to get people talking about the idea. He believes that, as a nation, we could decide to accomplish a goal of energy sustainability as a practical alternative to our current system, and that this is one possible direction that might take. One day, perhaps, this will be seen as not just a literal line in the sand, but the line we cross to change the face of energy production for the US.