Nevada is set to host the largest solar array in the United States. Last month, the U.S. Department of the Interior approved a proposal for the Gemini Solar Project, a $1 billion solar-generating facility to be located about 30 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
The facility, which will be built on federally-controlled land and operated by Solar Partners XI, will be the eighth largest in the world, and will generate enough electricity for 260,000 homes in the Las Vegas area, according to a Department of the Interior press release. It may also serve Southern California, the agency said.
Construction is scheduled to start later this year, with completion targeted for the end of 2023, according to a fact sheet from the government of Clark County, which encompasses Las Vegas and the land where the solar array will be located. Local utility NV Energy signed a 25-year power-purchase agreement for the solar array in June 2019, according to Clark County.
The completed facility will consist of 690 megawatts of photovoltaic solar panels, plus 380 MW of battery energy storage. The batteries will absorb excess energy generated by the solar panels during periods of low electricity demand.
The site's generating capacity would annually offset greenhouse gas emissions from 83,000 cars, or potentially several times that in terms of energy to charge electric cars for daily commuting, the Department of the Interior said in its press release.
Photovoltaic solar power field at Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee
President Trump has loudly voiced opposition to renewable energy, so it's surprising that a federal agency approved the project.
In a 2019 rant, Trump said that solar power was too expensive and "not strong enough." He later declined to elaborate on what he meant by "strong."
While analysts predict that energy from renewables will soon be cheaper than energy from coal in most parts of the world, it would require “substantial investments in utility-scale storage to ensure grid resilience is maintained,” said a Wood Mackenzie expert to Green Car Reports last year.
There has been renewed interest recently in putting solar panels on cars. Startups Lightyear and Sono plan to build cars powered by a combination of solar panels and batteries, while the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid gets a solar roof to help improve gas mileage.