Gemini solar and storage hybrid energy project is located in the federal Mojave Desert lands in Nevada,a western US state. Gemini Solar is estimated to cost US$1.2bn according to Primergy Solar who hope to start work within the next quarter.
The Gemini solar complex, which will be the country’s largest-ever solar construction when it opens in “late 2023 or early 2024,” will consist of a 690MW capacity PV plant and a 1,416MWh (380MW) battery energy storage system (ESS) spread across 26.3km2 (6,500 acres) of land owned and managed by the Department of Interior.
According to Primergy solar CEO, Gemini Solar Project in Nevada is one of the most difficult clean energy projects ever constructed in the region owing to its size, complexity, and novel combination of PV with battery ESS.
The company has reportedly invested “significant resources” in minimizing the project’s physical footprint where possible in order to preserve and protect local flora and fauna, including the threatened desert tortoise, which will be reintroduced into their natural environment once construction is completed.
NV Energy, Nevada’s largest electric provider and a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, will purchase the project’s electricity over a 25-year period. The two firms have large cooperation, with 1,300 MWac of operating solar and 3,330 MWh of BESS under contract.
Gemini Solar Project contractor
Kiewit Power Constructors Co (Kiewit), a subsidiary of Kiewit Corp in the United States, has been chosen as the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor for the Gemini solar project.
“In line with Quinbrook policy, the Quinbrook and Primergy teams worked tirelessly to examine each supplier’s qualifications and track record from an ESG standpoint. This involves a rigorous supply chain assessment and material sourcing to guarantee we have bought ethically, especially in a tough market and regulatory climate for solar and storage equipment,” stated Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners Managing Partner David Scaysbrook.
Gemini Solar Project, Las Vegas, receives green light for construction.
On the 30th of December, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Gemini solar project. It is planned to be a 7,100-acre installation outside Las Vegas, Nevada, with a proposed generation capacity of 690 MW.
The US$ 1bn project which includes a minimum of 380 MW of energy storage capacity using lithium-ion batteries, will be the largest U.S. solar farm in terms of generation. Currently, the largest operating solar farm in the U.S. is the 579-MW Solar Star installation in California, which came online in 2015.
Construction of the Gemini Solar Power Plant
The Gemini Solar is going to be developed by Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, a global investment management company specializing in renewable energy. The project could be fully operational by year-end 2023. It will be located along Interstate 15 about 30 miles northeast of Las Vegas, in the vicinity of two other solar farms already operating on the other side of the highway.
The Gemini Solar Project would serve customers of NV Energy, Nevada’s largest electrical utility. The project requires approval from the Bureau of Land Management because it would be built on federal land. The agency in its Environmental Impact Statement said the federal government is likely to approve the project after a final round of public comments over the next three months. Construction could start in early 2020.
The Gemini project would join over two dozen other solar farms approved by federal officials on BLM land since 2010 when the agency approved its first solar project. That includes the Dodge Flat Solar Energy Center approved last year, part of NV Energy’s latest Integrated Resource Plan.
Largest solar power project in the US to be constructed in Nevada
The Department of Interior (DOI) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved a proposal to construct and operate the largest solar power project in US history. The Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt signed the Record of Decision (ROD) for Solar Partners XI, LLC to construct a 690MW photovoltaic solar electric generating facility and ancillary facilities about 30 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
The estimated US $1bn Gemini Solar Project could be the eighth-largest solar power facility in the world when finished and is expected to generate enough electricity to power 260,000 homes in the Las Vegas area and potential energy markets in Southern California.
According to Abigail Ross Hopper, President, and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), despite the challenges of the coronavirus, they are pleased to see that Nevada will soon be home to one of the biggest solar projects in the world. “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 federal government has done to make this historic project a reality,” she said.
The on-site construction workforce is anticipated to average 500 to 700 construction workers, with a peak of up to 900 workers at any given time, supporting up to an additional 1,100 jobs in the local community and injecting an estimated US $712.5m 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 online in 2021 with final completion as early as 2022. Federal revenues are expected to be more than the US $3m annually to the U.S. Treasury.
Environmental benefits and impact mitigation
The Project is expected to generate renewable electricity that would annually offset greenhouse emissions of about 83,000 cars (384,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent). The hybrid alternative specified in the ROD also includes a mowing method that will result in fewer impacts on native vegetation and wildlife, such as the desert tortoise. Extensive long-term monitoring will be required, in addition to the possible adaptation of methods used to reduce potential impacts to the desert tortoises.
The BLM and Solar Partners XI, LLC also developed measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts to other resources including, but not limited to, visual resources, cultural and tribal resources, recreation access, and air quality.