Chernobyl, Site Of Nuclear Disaster, To Get Solar Makeover
Two Chinese companies plan to start constructing a massive solar PV project in Chernobyl, Ukraine – home of the infamous nuclear power plant disaster – in 2017.
In a press release, GCL System Integration Technology Co. Ltd. (GCL-SI), a subsidiary of energy group GCL, says it is collaborating with China National Complete Engineering Corp. (CCEC), a subsidiary of state-owned National Machinery Industry Corp., to help rebuild Chernobyl’s “exclusion zone” 30 years after the accident by constructing a solar PV project totaling over 1 GW.
The 1986 explosion and meltdown in Chernobyl released vast quantities of radiation, contaminating approximately 30 km2 of land with fallout. The Ukrainian government now aims to give a new renewable life to the exclusion zone. In October, the government announced plans to build a PV plant at Chernobyl, and Ostap Semerak, Ukraine’s minister of environment and natural resources, said, “Its cheap land and abundant sunlight constitute a solid foundation for the project. In addition, the remaining electric transmission facilities are ready for reuse.”
CCEC will serve as the general contractor and manage the overall project, while GCL-SI will offer consultancy and planning services, as well as solar equipment, to the project. According to GCL-SI, construction of the solar plant is expected to begin in 2017. Further details were not disclosed.
“There will be remarkable social benefits and economical ones as we try to renovate the once-damaged area with green and renewable energy. We are glad that we are making joint efforts with Ukraine to rebuild the community for the local people,” says Shu Hua, chairman of GCL-SI, who notes the project is part of the Chinese company’s global expansion. “We have been dedicated to providing integrated solar services and will take diverse approaches this year to drive penetration and achieve global presence. The Chernobyl project is also one of our key steps to approach abroad.”
According to a Reuters report, Chernobyl’s nuclear reactor is slated to be fully covered by a steel-clad arch in 2017. Citing a GCL-SI manager, the report says the company has inspected the project site and considers the area safe. “Ukraine has passed a law allowing the site to be developed for agriculture and other things, so that means [the radiation] is under control,” the manager told Reuters.
Alabama’s Largest Solar Project Goes Online
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and NextEra Energy Resources have announced the commissioning of what they say is Alabama’s largest solar energy project – the River Bend Solar Energy Center.
According to the partners, the 75 MW project features more than 300,000 solar panels with trackers that will follow the sun from east to west each day to maximize energy production. The energy, enough to power more than 15,000 homes, will serve TVA consumers under a 20-year power purchase agreement between TVA and NextEra Energy Resources.
“TVA never stands still, and this NextEra Energy Resources project helps us meet our commitment to provide the 9 million people of the Tennessee Valley with reliable, low-cost, carbon-free electricity,” says Van Wardlaw, executive vice president of external relations for TVA. “Over the next 20 years, TVA will invest about $8 billion to support our renewable energy portfolio, and we see a bright renewable energy future for projects like this across the Tennessee Valley.”
“We are pleased to once again work with our valued customer, TVA, to bring additional renewables into their portfolio with this first project of its scale in Alabama,” states Mike O’Sullivan, senior vice president of development for NextEra Energy Resources, which is the owner and operator of the project.
The partners say the project has created a significant economic boost for Lauderdale County, creating about 350 jobs during the construction phase, with most of the workers coming from the local area.
“This project has provided good jobs for Lauderdale County residents, and businesses are enjoying the extra activity, too,” says Lauderdale County Commissioner Joe Hackworth. “We are thrilled to host the state’s largest solar facility and help realize the benefits it can bring to our community.”
Over its operational life, the River Bend Solar Energy Center is expected to generate more than $9 million in property taxes, with the majority going to benefit the Lauderdale County School District.
“I know the school board will look at all of the opportunities these funds will provide,” says Lauderdale County School Superintendent Jennifer Gray. “The funds will be a boost to many of the school district’s future projects.”
Arizona School District Expects To Save Millions
Constellation, a retail energy supplier and subsidiary of Exelon Corp., and Amphitheater Public Schools, a school district in Tucson, Ariz., have announced the completion of a district-wide solar project totaling 9.3 MW. Consisting of solar installations located across 25 school sites and support facilities, the project is expected to generate more than 60% of the district’s electricity needs in the first year of operation.
“We are excited about the significant cost-savings and meaningful educational opportunities this solar power system will bring,” says James Burns, Amphitheater Public Schools’ executive manager of operational support. “In addition, it will provide much-needed shade in play areas and allow the district to demonstrate the viability of clean energy resources to our students, faculty and community.”
The project required no upfront capital from the district. Constellation owns and operates the solar systems, and the district will purchase the electricity from Constellation under a 25-year solar services agreement. The project will result in an expected savings of $11 million to $23 million in energy costs over the term of the agreement, according to the district.
The project offers real-time data monitoring capabilities that will be integrated into the school curriculum to help students learn how solar electricity works and about the benefits of renewable energy. Students will be able to observe how solar energy is powering their schools and be introduced to potential careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
“Constellation is pleased to help Amphitheater Public Schools manage their energy costs and educate their students about the benefits of renewable energy,” says Brendon Quinlivan, executive director of distributed energy origination for Constellation. “Constellation welcomes Amphitheater Public Schools to the growing list of K-12 school customers that have adopted Constellation’s solar energy solutions programs. Since 2012, we’ve helped 150 schools install over 55 MW of solar generation in the greater Tucson and Phoenix communities.”
The solar installations total approximately 29,000 PV panels located on carports, shade canopies and rooftops across 25 locations. Natural Power and Energy, an Arizona-based commercial solar developer, led the pre-construction development efforts for the project.
New York Auto Dealer Goes Fully Solar
Yonkers, N.Y.-based auto dealer Smith Cairns Ford Lincoln Mazda Subaru has turned to solar to save on its energy bills.
Working with Standard Solar, the dealer installed a 1,272-panel, 394 kW solar PV system. In addition to the 253 kW array on its rooftop, the system also features two solar carports totaling 141 kW.
Standard Solar says that the rooftop and carport arrays, expected to produce approximately 472,000 kWh of power per year, will cover 100% of the dealer’s energy needs. The V-shaped carport arrays are rain and snow proof, thus protecting the dealership’s auto inventory and providing a clean and dry environment for prospective buyers. The project also includes an electric vehicle (EV) charging station to support the dealer’s EV inventory and EV customers.
“For more than 50 years, Dwight McGuirk and his family have been part of the economic engine in America, providing jobs and spurring development,” says Rick Berube, chief operating officer of Standard Solar. “The decision for Dwight to install solar is another example of how small business owners continue to contribute to our economy and how it correlates to the success story of the solar industry in the U.S.”
Partners Celebrate Big Community Solar Project In Mass.
Boston-based BlueWave Capital LLC has cut the ribbon on its 16.5 MW Barrett Street community solar project, which is made up of nine solar PV arrays in Oxford, Mass.
According to the company, subscribed residents and small businesses will receive clean power from the project in the form of net-metering credits as part of BlueWave’s Community Solar Share program. In addition, Fay School of Southborough, Mass., and Phillips Academy Andover of Andover, Mass., are the “anchor” off-takers for the project, having contracted for 1.625 MW and 6.5 MW of the net-metering credits, respectively. As a result, both schools are furthering their sustainability goals while reducing their electricity costs.
“Fay School is delighted to be part of this green energy initiative,” says Rob Gustavson, head of school at Fay School. “Our partnership with BlueWave has helped us broaden our ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability.”
Located on what was once a large commercial piggery, the Barrett Street project will also protect 100 acres of farmland from more intensive use and enable future agricultural use, generate local tax revenue for the Town of Oxford, and create and support Massachusetts’ clean energy and climate goals, according to BlueWave.
“The Town of Oxford is honored to be part of the sustainable energy future, and we welcome BlueWave to our community,” says Oxford Selectwoman Cheryll A. LeBlanc.
The Barrett Street project has been under development with landowners Martin Realty Co. and Brett and Dorothy Mann since 2013. In March 2016, site preparations began, and mechanical completion of the assemblage was achieved in July 2016. Conti Solar served as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor.
“We are thrilled to have been involved in the construction of a project that so ably demonstrates the many positive impacts a solar installation can have,” says Matthew Skidmore, vice president of Conti Solar. He adds, “The construction process provided jobs for more than 100 local laborers, operators and electricians.”
Financing partners included MS Solar Solutions Corp., Avidia Bank, MMA Energy Capital and New Energy Capital. BlueWave says it also worked with utility National Grid to develop a combined point of interconnection through the use of directional drilling to connect multiple electrical facilities while minimizing land impacts.
“This is the largest community solar project installed to date in our service area,” notes Kevin G. Kelly, director of customer energy integration at National Grid.