Construction on the Phipps Bend Nuclear Power plant kicked off in 1978, the plant was expected to revitalize the economy and bring more power to the the entire Tennessee Valley Authority. However, as the project being built energy demand and electric prices fell and the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island was the final nail in the coffin of the project. But now, thanks to solar power, the abandoned site once again is providing energy for the region.
That’s thanks to a new, 1 megawatt solar farm. The new project has nearly 3,000 solar panels on trackers to maximize the amount of power the panels can generate and sits on four acres just outside the concrete structures abandoned mid-construction. It was developed by Birdseye Renewable Energy, which partnered with United Renewable Energy and TVA to build the solar farm that now provides energy generation to Hawkins County, TN.
The project is just one in a string of recent project announcements where solar has replaced or been added near nuclear plants. Even the world’s most infamous nuclear disaster site, Cherynobl, is getting its own solar project.
The project, which is owned by Birdseye, provides power to Holston Electric as part of TVA's Distributed Solar Solutions program serving eastern Tennessee. "It has been a true pleasure working with TVA distributor Holston Electric, the Hawkins County Industrial Development Board and United Renewable Energy. The team worked seamlessly to provide Hawkins County a notable landmark of innovation in the midst of the Phipps Bend Nuclear site. We look forward to future collaborations with TVA,” said Brian Bednar, President of Birdseye Renewable Energy.
"We are proud to work with Birdseye on this exciting project to bring solar energy to east Tennessee. Due to its location, this project visibly demonstrates how clean, efficient solar energy matches other forms of power generation to meet our country's growing energy needs," said Keith Herbs, executive vice president of United Renewable Energy.
The now low costs of solar power as well as the ability to quickly deploy new solar projects are chief among the reasons that utilities are looking to solar power instead of large new nuclear plants that can take much longer to deploy. For instance, in Wisconsin WPPI Energy and NextEra Energy Resources are building a 100 megawatt solar farm on land adjacent to the Point Beach Nuclear Plant in Two Rivers.Tweet