Nevada is leading the charge for clean energy innovation. Earlier this summer, Governor Steve Sisolak signed two pieces of legislation that will support the development of renewable energy and storage technologies while the state continues to reach its emissions reduction targets and facilitates infrastructure investments across the state.
“Clean energy jobs are at the center of our economic future,” said Gov. Sisolak at the time of the bill’s signing.
If the Silver State’s track record with clean energy is any indication, he’s right on the money. According to Clean Jobs Nevada 2020, before the global pandemic began, Nevada’s clean energy economy continued to grow at a solid pace after a record-setting year in 2018. At the time, Nevada’s energy sector ranked 29th in the U.S., with over 33,788 clean energy workers. However, the pandemic’s effect on the industry is still being felt, with some 3,700 of those workers out of a job. The report notes there’s plenty of room for optimism, however, as the industry bounces back.
In Las Vegas, companies are joining the cause and investing in clean energy-related infrastructure — from solar arrays to electric vehicle charging stations and more.
MGM Resorts International launched its new 100-megawatt solar array in June. The array is the hospitality industry’s largest directly sourced renewable electricity project worldwide.
It produces 90% of the resort’s Las Vegas daytime power needs (spanning 65 million sq. ft. of buildings across 13 properties and more than 36,000 rooms on the Las Vegas Strip, including Bellagio, ARIA, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand and The Mirage, among others.)
Located in the desert north of Las Vegas, MGM Resorts’ Mega Solar Array features 323,000 panels arranged across 640 acres. The array’s renewable electricity production will be equivalent to the amount of power used by approximately 27,000 average U.S. homes annually. MGM Resorts is the sole user of the renewable electricity generated.
Nevada’s Green Link
In March, NV Energy’s Greenlink Nevada transmission and renewable energy initiative got the green light from the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN). NV Energy’s investment of more than $2.5 billion in Greenlink Nevada is expected to generate $690 million in economic activity and support nearly 4,000 jobs, including the utilization of skilled union labor.
Greenlink Nevada is expected to transform Nevada’s clean energy landscape by tapping into resource-rich renewable energy zones throughout western and northern portions of the state, helping to accelerate the development of clean energy on public lands; increase electric reliability for all Nevadans and drive the creation of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initiative will also allow for the development of approximately 5,000 megawatts of renewable energy projects throughout Nevada, contributing significant economic growth in the form of nearly 2,000 additional construction jobs and related tax revenue. The project will also provide the infrastructure needed to support new and expanding businesses in Nevada from west Henderson to Apex in North Las Vegas to Reno. The first phase of construction at Greenlink West has an estimated completion date of December 2026.
“NV Energy’s Greenlink Nevada initiative will unlock for all Nevadans the sustainability and economic benefits that come from providing essential transmission access to our state’s vast renewable energy resources and exemplifies the potential of my vision for Nevada’s new energy economy,” said Gov. Sisolak. “I applaud NV Energy for its forward thinking in presenting this project and for its ongoing commitment to supporting Nevada’s long-term economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In June, NV Energy announced plans for two new solar-plus-storage projects, totaling 600 megawatts of energy and 480 megawatts of storage. The solar projects — both developed by Primergy Solar and both located in Humboldt County — will have the capacity to power 127,000 homes and are expected to replace a coal-fired generation station in Winnemucca by 2025. The two new projects are:
Clean energy jobs are at the center of our economic future.”
— Steve Sisolak, Governor of Nevada
NV Energy will also build three grid-tied battery energy storage systems in northern Nevada. These systems will provide 66 megawatts of energy storage capacity that can be used during times of highest customer demand.
Innovating Energy Storage
Nevada is home to a wealth of natural resources, including rare materials useful in creating battery and energy storage technologies. Energy storage will become even more important as the world moves toward electricity and away from fossil fuels. Several developments in the energy storage sector have taken place in the state this year.
One of the nation’s largest lithium resources, Thacker Pass, is the site of the state’s next large-scale lithium mine. Located in the same Humboldt County hosting the solar-and-storage projects above, the mine from Canada-based Lithium Americas was approved by the U.S Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management earlier this year for construction to begin in early 2022.
Nanotech Energy, the world’s leading manufacturer of graphene and the only producer of non-flammable, graphene-based batteries on the market, is planning to develop a new high-volume graphene battery manufacturing facility in Reno, Nevada. The manufacturing facility is expected to open in late 2022.
Lithion Battery’s new 80,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility opened this summer in Henderson. The plant is home to the only non-captive Lithium-Ion manufacturing business in the U.S. Lithion will also be manufacturing their Valence line of battery modules at the facility, which is used in the electrification of many applications and across various industries.
Mark Arend has been editor in chief of Site Selection magazine since 2001. Prior to joining the editorial staff in 1997, he worked for 10 years in New York City at Wall Street Computer Review, ABA Banking Journal and Global Investment Technology. Mark graduated from the University of Hartford (Conn.) in 1985 and lives near Atlanta, Georgia.