Solar on coal ash? ‘First-of-its-kind’ $216m pilot unveiled

A 100MW solar farm will be installed at the Shawnee Fossil Plant in Kentucky following environmental reviews and regulatory approval

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The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board of Directors has approved a $216 million (£182m) pilot project to determine if closed coal ash sites are suitable for utility-scale solar projects.

The “first-of-its-kind” pilot in the US, which is pending environmental reviews and regulatory approval, will see the installation of a100MW solar farm on 309 acres of land at the Shawnee Fossil Plant in Kentucky.

The project supports TVA’s decarbonisation efforts and is the first step towards repurposing retired fossil sites into sources of renewable energy.

If the solar installation at Shawnee works, TVA – a federally-owned utility that provides electricity for 153 local power companies serving around 10 million people – plans to deploy additional similar projects, with the aim of adding 1,000MW of capacity.

It also supports the utility’s ambition to add 10,000MW of solar energy by 2035.

Jeff Lyash, TVA president and CEO said: “The space between execution and aspiration is where innovation lives.

“Achieving a net zero clean energy future is critical to our nation’s energy security goals and requires innovative thinking and exploring new technologies. TVA was created as an innovation company and is uniquely positioned to demonstrate these technologies for the rest of the industry – both in the US and around the world.”