EGEB: $2 billion solar farm/data center proposal, Maine back in wind, Senegal solar, and more

In today’s EGEB:

  • A $2 billion solar farm/data center proposal in Virginia.
  • Maine is back in the wind energy game, and it’s approved a new wind farm.
  • A Hawaiian wind farm is getting a bat deterrent system.
  • Senegal looks to build “mini hybrid” solar plants.

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

A much-debated piece of land in Virginia that once looked to become an industrial site may now get a $2 billion solar farm/data center project instead.

The “Chester Solar Technology Park” has been proposed for much of the land referred to as the Matoaca Mega Site in Chesterfield, Va., RichmondBizSense reports. Colorado-based renewable energy company Torch Clean Energy is making the pitch.

The proposal would see a 150 megawatt solar farm that would power an adjoining data center. It would use 1,500 acres of the 1,700-acre site, with 300 acres going to the data center — and presumably, most of the rest going to the solar project. Torch Clean Energy president John Kilberg said,

“We see this as being the first of its kind in Virginia, and we want to make sure that we do it correctly, with the community involved as our partners in it. We don’t see this as being a one-off. We think that this is a model that can be done other places within Chesterfield and other places within the state, so it’s important we get it right on the first one.”

It’s an interesting project, but residents successfully fought off prior attempts to turn the area into an industrial zone. Perhaps they’ll be a little more amenable to a solar/data project, but who can tell in an active NIMBY area?

Maine’s Wind Embrace

After an oft-criticized moratorium on wind projects in Maine ended in February with an executive order from Gov. Janet Mills, the state is once again open for business in the wind industry, and it’s moving quickly — Maine has approved a new 22-turbine $147.5 million wind project in Hancock County, Bangor Daily News reports.

The nearly 600-foot tall turbines would total nearly 73 MW, and the project sets aside nearly 5,800 acres for bird habitation. Operations would also be curbed periodically to protect bats.

After Gov. Paul LePage left office, Mills — and Maine — seem to be treating 2019 like a new lease on life, at least as far as renewable energy goes. Mills also restored the state’s previous net metering policies for solar power.

Bat Plans

Maine isn’t the only state taking bats into consideration when it comes to wind energy development. NRG Systems announced the first commercial sale of its bat deterrent system to Kawailoa Wind, Hawaii’s largest wind farm. Brita Woeck, Environmental Compliance Officer for Kawailoa Wind, said,

“Wind energy is crucial to providing renewable energy in Hawaii. Kawailoa Wind is invested in finding solutions so that clean energy generation and bat conservation can co-exist here in Hawaii and beyond.”

The wind farm is also turning off turbines during low wind speeds at night to minimize bat fatalities. NRG’s system should be used in conjunction with that curtailment to spare the lives of even more bats.

Senegal Solar

Senegal’s national electricity company is preparing to install 2 MW worth of “mini hybrid” solar plants, Construction Review Online reports. The plants will come with batteries capable of 2 MWh of storage.

They’re “hybrid” plants because they’ll reportedly have the ability to operate with diesel generators, as well. That’s not ideal — one hopes that’s only for emergency purposes — but officials still believe the plants can help Senegal avoid 19,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

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