BLM ad­vances $1bn bat­tery-backed so­lar project in Ne­vada

The Punch - - ENERGY -

Asprawl­ing bat­tery-backed so­lar project, pro­posed on fed­eral land in Ne­vada and pro­jected to cost more than $1bn, is one step closer to break­ing ground af­ter the US Depart­ment of the In­te­rior’s Bureau of Land Man­age­ment re­leased a favourable fi­nal en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact state­ment on Mon­day.

The Gemini So­lar + Bat­tery Stor­age Project, with 690 megawatts of so­lar pho­to­voltaics, or PV, and 380 MW of bat­tery stor­age, is un­der­pinned by a re­centlyap­proved 25-year power pur­chase agree­ment be­tween NV En­ergy Inc. and an af­fil­i­ate of pri­vate eq­uity in­vestor Quin­brook In­fra­struc­ture Part­ners Pty Ltd, which is de­vel­op­ing the project to­gether with Cal­i­for­nia-based Are­via Power.

The agency’s fi­nal en­vi­ron­men­tal re­port de­tails a pre­ferred site de­vel­op­ment plan that varies from the orig­i­nal project pro­posal. The agency’s al­ter­na­tive plan would carve out ad­di­tional space for veg­e­ta­tion, nat­u­ral land con­tours and en­dan­gered desert tor­toises, ac­cord­ing to S&P Global Platts.

If con­firmed by the agency’s record of de­ci­sion, fol­low­ing a 60-day re­view pe­riod, the project could start con­struc­tion in early 2020. A first phase is sched­uled to be en­er­gised in 2021, with fi­nal com­ple­tion no later than De­cem­ber 2023.

The project is one of numer­ous large-scale so­larplus-stor­age in­stal­la­tions in the ad­vanced stages of de­vel­op­ment in Ne­vada and the Desert South­west.

In early De­cem­ber, Ne­vada en­ergy reg­u­la­tors ap­proved long-term con­tracts for two ad­di­tional projects with NV en­ergy, a util­ity sub­sidiary of Berk­shire Hath­away en­ergy. Those in­clude the Ar­row Canyon So­lar Project, a 200MW PV project with 75 MW of stor­age, un­der de­vel­op­ment by an af­fil­i­ate of France-based EDF Group, and 8minute So­lar en­ergy LLC’S South­ern Bighorn So­lar & Stor­age Cen­ter, a 300-MW so­lar fa­cil­ity with 135 MW of bat­tery stor­age.

South­ern Bighorn will de­liv­er­pow­er­atanaver­ageprice of $35/MWH, be­low the cost of fos­sil fuel-based gen­er­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to 8Minute So­lar en­ergy Pres­i­dent and CEO Tom Buttgen­bach.

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