5月11日,美国内政部批准了将坐落于内华达州的10亿美元太阳能发电项目,该项目将成为全美最大的太阳能发电厂,建成后产能可完全覆盖拉斯维加斯全部居民用电需求。

该项目投资方之一为NV Energy Inc.,是巴菲特掌舵的伯克希尔·哈撒韦公司旗下的子公司;以及私募公司Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners。在去年,两家公司签署了为期25年的合约,旨在打造和运营该产能超过690兆瓦的太阳能发电厂。

近年来,受温室效应影响以及从用电成本方面出发,越来越多的大型企业用户开始强烈要求使用更多的风力和太阳能发电。去年内华达州成为美国为数不多通过了零排放能源开发和使用法律的州,并允许在2030年以前,将全州50%的电力转为可循环能源提供。

内政部长David Bernhardt于11日批准了该名为“Gemini”的太阳能发电项目。该项目占地面积约4.2万亩,位于拉斯维加斯东北方向50公里处。

分析表示,该项目对经济发展和环境保护都至关重要,工厂预计可增加约900个建筑岗位工作,建成后所降低发电污染排放量约合8.3万辆车。

“这个项目将成为未来当地电力的主要供给”,Bernhardt表示,“我很高兴能够见证Gemini项目的诞生,他对于就业市场也提供了关键的帮助。”

项目预计将在政府最终批准的一个月后启动,1年内完成一阶段施工,2023年前全部投入运营。Bernhardt也表示受新冠疫情影响,该工程计划可能会有所推迟

尽管总统特朗普对于全球变暖的威胁并不关注,美国政府仍然对该项目的批准大开绿灯,减少了复杂的环境审核手续,并表示Gemini项目符合美国政府当前的投资方向,并将其视为重要的基建项目。

根据能源咨询公司伍德麦肯兹披露,相较于其他美国顶尖的太阳能发电设施,Gemini的优势在于其配备了超大容量的储电设施,在没有日照的夜晚同样能够稳定的持续供电。这将在新能源发电行业带领出新的发展趋势。

“这是一个规模相当夸张的项目”伍德麦肯兹分析师Colin Smith表示,“我将其视为新能源行业的一个新里程碑,在此之后我们将能见到更多更大的太阳能发电项目。”

伯克希尔·哈撒韦公司同时也是美国已有的最大太阳能发电站的投资方之一。该项目名为Solar Star,产能586兆瓦,位于洛杉矶市郊外。其Gemini的合作方Quinbrook则专注于低碳、可循环能源的基建投资,在休斯顿,英国和澳大利亚均设有分部。


U.S. Approves Giant Solar Project in Nevada

Gemini project will have capacity to power all Las Vegas homes

WASHINGTON—The Interior Department has given final approval for what it says will be the largest solar-power project in the U.S., a $1 billion installation in Nevada that could power about 260,000 households—enough to cover the residential population of Las Vegas.

The project has financial backing from NV Energy Inc., a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., and Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, a private-equity firm. The two firms signed a 25-year deal last year to take the solar farm’s output of 690 megawatts.

Major business consumers have been clamoring for more wind and solar power to help slow climate change and lower bills. Nevada last year joined several states that have passed laws committing to emissions-free power, mandating that half of its electricity must come from renewables by 2030.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed approval Monday for what is called the Gemini Solar Project to go forward on 7,000 acres of federal land in the desert 33 miles northeast of Las Vegas, the Interior Department said.

It touts the project as a boon to the economy and the environment, with the potential to employ up to 900 construction workers and produce emissions-free power to offset the greenhouse-gas output of 83,000 cars.

“That project would be a major producer of energy,” Mr. Bernhardt said. “I’m glad that we’re getting this out, and it’s really part of our effort to foster jobs.”

Construction was originally set begin one month after final approval, with the first phase expected to be completed within a year, and full operation by 2023. Mr. Bernhardt warned, however, that the coronavirus pandemic might delay that timeline.

While President Trump has shrugged off dire scientific warnings about global warming, the administration has also proposed cutting red tape on environmental reviews and says Gemini fits with its priority of facilitating investment in important infrastructure projects.

Gemini is unique among the country’s largest solar projects in that it includes major battery capacity to keep feeding the grid overnight, an emerging trend among new solar projects, according to an arm of energy-consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.

“It’s just a monstrous project,” said Colin Smith, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie. “I see it as the next step. We’re going to keep seeing bigger and bigger solar.”

Berkshire is also invested in the biggest operating U.S. solar farm, Solar Star, a 586-megawatt project outside Los Angeles. Its offtake partner on Gemini, Quinbrook, focuses on lower carbon and renewable-energy infrastructure, with offices in Houston, the U.K. and Australia.

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