While not the strongest solar market historically, development activity has been heating up in Kentucky in the past two years, including the announcement of the largest project to be approved in the state thus far.
Under development by Savion, the Martin County Solar Project is a 200 MW solar project being constructed on 1,200 acres of the former Martiki coal mine site in Martin County, near the Kentucky-West Virginia border.
Construction of the facility is expected to begin in 2022 and it is expected to achieve commercial operation early 2024. During construction, the project is anticipated to create between 250 and 300 temporary construction jobs, in addition to 11 full-time Kentucky jobs, including eight in Martin County. Moreover, the temporary construction workers will all receive certification upon the project’s completion, allowing them to pursue further careers in solar construction.
This is especially important in Kentucky, as most of the workers expected to build the project will be displaced former coal workers. Creating new employment opportunities for displaced fossil fuel workers in renewable energy has been one of the paramount goals of the Biden Administration’s energy transition plans.
The project is the largest in Kentucky known to pv magazine, unseating the former record holder: ACCIONA’s 188 MW Fleming County Solar Project, currently under construction.
While Kentucky has installed just under 65 MW of solar to date, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the state’s energy landscape is set to change rapidly in the coming months and years.
In October, pv magazine USA reported that Kentucky has an 815 MW pipeline of solar projects in the five years, including multiple projects above 100 MW in capacity. These project include the aforementioned Martin and Fleming County installations, as well as a three-site, 125 MW project being developed by utility LG&E KU, and a 173 MW solar, 30 MW/120 MWh storage system sourced under the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Green Invest program. That project will feed its generation to Facebook and General Motors.
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