When a solar project is announced, its common to hear the phrases “largest in the county” and “largest in the service region.” Periodically comes the rare “largest in the state.” Today, Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners provided solar power’s white whale: the announcement of a 690 MW-AC solar project, to the knowledge of pv magazine the largest of its kind in the United States, located 25 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
The Gemini Solar Project will sit on roughly 44,000-acres in Clark County, including public land overseen by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It will be a two-phase project, with the first 440 MW connecting to NV Energy’s (NVE) Crystal Substation and providing energy to NVE’s local grid. The second 250 MW phase will connect to the South Crystal Substation to potentially provide power to customers in Nevada, Arizona and California. In addition to the energy production, Bloomberg reports that the project will be coupled with up to 200 MW of battery storage systems. Construction is anticipated to begin in Q3 2019 and to go into operation by the end of 2020. A final price has not been placed on the construction, due to the unknown capacity of the batteries.
A project this big needs perspective to do justice to its potential. So just how large is 690 MW? If this project were its own state, it would rank 17th in the entire United States, according to data compiled by Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). It will have a larger capacity than all the solar installed in the 10 smallest state markets combined.
“A project of this scale will have a very positive impact on the state of Nevada and Las Vegas in particular, and we are grateful for the assistance and cooperation received from the Bureau of Land Management to date,” said Senior Managing Director of Quinbrook, Jeff Hunter, in the release touting the announcement.
The site is currently undergoing an environmental review by BLM, which is expected to be completed by the end of the month. Site lands also lay adjacent to the Moapa River Indian Reservation, whose residents have signed off in support of the project.
The project has not yet secured power contracts, and the developers are currently looking for off-takers for the first phase of the Gemini Solar. The project is in a good location for that, as it sits only 25 miles north of a number of casinos that have paid substantial sums to break off their relationship with NV Energy so that they may secure renewable energy directly. A spokesperson for the Quinbrook notes that there are “multiple options” for selling electricity available.
We will update this article as more information becomes available.