The government has approved two solar projects to become the first ever to be built on federal land, both to be erected in the California desert as part of a government fast-track program. Tessera Solar will build a 709-megawatt concentrated solar power project on 6,360 acres in Imperial Valley, to cost $2.1 billion (hundreds of millions of which could be supplied or underwritten by the government). Chevron Energy Solutions’ 45-megawatt system also received approval for a 422-acre project in Lucerne Valley. Both projects could power more than half a million homes when complete. The government is expected to approve other solar projects by the end of the year proposed by BrightSource, NextEra, Tessera and Solar Millennium.

Panasonic wants to become the biggest green electronics company in the world. The company expects energy systems to make up $12 billion, or 30 percent of its overall business, by 2018. Green Tech Media reports it will aim to be a global supplier of energy-efficient appliances, grid equipment and components, batteries and power storage, solar panels and fuel cells.

Frito-Lay has yanked its biodegradable SunChips bag after consumers complained about how loud it was. The company unveiled the bag, which it said could decompose in 14 weeks, to great fanfare and an ad campaign earlier this year, but complaints about the bag’s noisiness have migrated onto YouTube, blogs and the media. Original flavor SunChips will still be packaged in the earth-friendly bag– the rest of the flavors go back to their old packaging.

In efforts to bring solar panel systems to the next level, Suntech appears to be teaming up with everyone under the … well, sun. The company — the world’s largest maker of crystalline silicon panels — announced partnerships yesterday with companies that make technology that maximizes the power generated by solar panels, Azuray (maximum power point tracking technology) and Enphase Energy (microinverter systems). Suntech is also teaming with National Semiconductors to use National’s chipsets in its solar panels to make them operate smarter, or more power-optimized. The industry term for such panels is “smart solar panels,” and all of these partnerships reflect some kind of technology that adjusts panels with energy production problems caused by shading, dirt and the failure of one panel in a system that then drags down the overall power output.

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