Approval granted for US’ largest-ever solar site – “8th largest in the world”

The US Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have approved the construction of the $1 billion (€927 million) 690MW Gemini Solar Plant, the largest solar facility in US history.

Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt has approved solar firm Solar Partners XI, LLC’s plan to construct and operate the facility which will be located 30 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

The estimated $1 billion project could be the eighth-largest solar power facility in the world when finished, according to a release from the DOI, and is expected to generate enough electricity to power 260,000 homes in the Las Vegas area and potential energy markets in Southern California.

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The plans include 34.5 kilovolt overhead and underground collector lines, a 2-acre (0.8-hectare) operation and maintenance facility, three substations, internal access roads, access roads along generation tie-lines, a perimeter road, perimeter fencing, water storage tanks for fire protection, drainage control features, a potential on-site water well or a new water pipeline, and improvements to Nevada utility NV Energy’s facilities to support interconnection. The project will also include a 380MW solar-powered battery system able to store and deploy 1,400MWh in backup capacity.

Up to 900 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase of the project, whilst supporting a further 1,100 jobs in the local community and injecting an estimated $712.5 million (€660 million) into the economy in wages and total output during construction.

The project is expected to be constructed in two phases. The first phase of power could come on-line in 2021 with final completion as early as 2022. Federal revenues are expected to be more than $3 million (€2.78 million) annually to the US Treasury.

The facility is expected to offset approximately 384,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually, the equivalent of about 83,000 cars on Nevada’s roads.

“This action is about getting Americans back to work, strengthening communities and promoting investment in American energy,” said Casey Hammond, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Exercising the Authority of the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. “Domestic energy production on Federal lands remains fundamental to our national security and the achievements of the Trump Administration.”

“Despite the challenges of the coronavirus, we’re pleased to see that Nevada will soon be home to one of the biggest solar projects in the world,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “The solar industry is resilient and a project like this one will bring jobs and private investment to the state when we need it most. We appreciate the work that the Trump Administration has done to make this historic project a reality.”

More information about the project can be found here.