Unfinished nuclear power plant turned into solar farm

The site of an unfinished nuclear power plant is getting new life as a solar farm. The site was abandoned in the 1980s due to falling energy demand and prices.

Birdseye Renewable Energy partnered with United Renewable Energy to design and construct a solar farm bringing energy generation to Hawkins County, Tennessee.

The catch: the solar farm was built on the site of the unfinished Phipps Bend Nuclear Power Plant. That project, which was kicked off in 1978, was expected to generate electricity to reach the entire coverage area of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

But as energy demand and prices began to fall, along with safety concerns triggered by the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown, construction ceased in 1981 and the project remained unfinished.

Today, almost 3,000 solar panels sit on 1.6 hectares just outside the shadows of the abandoned, half-built concrete structures. According to a statement, the panels sit atop posts that slowly rotate to follow the sun’s path across the sky, maximising the solar energy gathered.

The energy is sold to Holston Electric as part of TVA’s Distributed Solar solutions programme, providing enough energy in eastern Tennessee to meet the needs of 100 average-sized homes.

The project’s developer and owner is Birdseye Renewable Energy, which develops large solar facilities throughout the southeast. It has over 430 MW greenfield projects, including 34 projects at schools in eastern Tennessee. Construction was performed by United Renewable Energy.

 

Image credit: United Renewable Energy

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