The United States has a lot of work to do to reach the Administration’s target of 80% renewable energy use by 2030. Current trends indicate that renewable energy will provide only about one-third of U.S. electricity to the grid by 2030, according to Energy Information Administration and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission data. That figure could quickly rise to 50%, but it will be challenging to hit the 80% mark.
Even so, strides are being made. In April, a facility in Nevada that is set to become the largest solar installation in the country got a big shot of funding that will help bring the project to completion.
The project is Gemini, a 690-megawatt solar-plus-storage facility located 33 miles northeast of Las Vegas on the Moapa River Indian Reservation. Once it’s up and running, it will deliver solar-generated renewable energy under a 25-year power-purchase agreement to public utility NV Energy.
Gemini is being developed by Primergy Solar, an Oakland, California-based portfolio company owned by Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners. On April 29, Primergy announced that it secured $1.3 billion in financing for the Gemini project. The funding includes a construction/term loan, tax-equity bridge loan, and letter of credit facility. It also includes $532 million in tax-equity commitments, representing one of the largest single-asset tax-equity solar financings ever completed in the U.S.
The project spans about 7,100 acres of desert land, which means a lot of care must be taken to protect the surrounding environment. Although Gemini has gotten pushback from certain environmental and Native American advocacy groups, Primergy has worked to assure the public that the company is committed to keeping its carbon footprint to a minimum.
Primergy says it is “utilizing the latest research and design considerations to minimize the footprint of Gemini and ensure that local flora and fauna will continue to thrive on-site with minimal impact from the solar panel installations.”
Primergy said it had reduced Gemini’s overall projected footprint by more than 20% compared with traditional solar projects. The company also claims to have lowered the need for access roads by 25% compared to other projects.
Primergy launched in 2020, focusing on investing in responsibly-sited solar and energy storage projects. It typically targets projects that can increase the reliability of clean power, cut carbon emissions, and promote energy independence.
The company develops, finances, builds, owns, and operates utility-scale solar photovoltaic, small-scale solar photovoltaic, and large-scale battery storage projects.
Its parent, Quinbrook, is an ESG-focused investment manager specializing in low carbon and renewable energy supply, storage, grid stability, and related assets and businesses.
The Gemini project will include a 1,416 megawatt-hour battery energy storage system (BESS), making it one of the world’s most significant projects. Its 1.8 million bifacial solar modules are enough to power the entire city of Las Vegas, according to Energy Storage News, which cited Primergy statements.
Kiewit Power Constructors will serve as the Gemini project’s engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) partner. IHI Terrasun Solutions will deliver and integrate the BESS. The project is expected to be completed in late 2023 and start operations shortly after.
Other large solar-plus-storage projects in the United States include Florida Power & Light’s recently completed Manatee Energy Storage Center and Terra-Gen’s Edwards Sanborn project in California.