The “Silver State” Going Green

State Economy

The population of the Silver State, Nevada is approximately 3.18 million people[1]. Nevada is the 32nd most populated state in the United States.

In 2020, Nevada’s economy was ranked 33rd in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP)[2]. The state’s economy is dependent on the aerospace, defense, mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism industries[3].

Environment Policies

In 1997, Nevada enacted an Energy Portfolio Standard[4], mandating all utilities sell 50% of their electricity from renewables by 2030.

In 2019, Nevada’s legislators unanimously set the goal of the state being 100% carbon free by 2050.

In May 2021, Nevada’s utilities[5] used natural gas (53.3 %), renewable energy (40.2 %) and coal (6.5 %) to generate electricity. Solar, geothermal and hydropower are the primary types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Nevada.

Nevada’s use of inexpensive renewable energy, contributes to the below average cost of electricity. In May 2021, the average cost of residential electricity in Nevada was 11.14 ¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 13.71 ¢ per kWh.

Recent renewable energy developments in Nevada include –

  • 690 MW Solar + 1,400 MW Energy Storage Project – California solar company, Primergy Solar is continuing work on the Gemini solar plus energy storage project at a site approximately 25 miles north of the city of Las Vegas. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2022.
  • 300 MW Solar Project – California solar company, 8minutenergy is continuing work on the Eagle Shadow Mountain Solar Farm at a site approximately 35 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2021.
  • 250 MW Solar Project – New York renewable energy company, CED Southwest Holdings is continuing work on the 250 MW Copper Mountain V solar project at a site approximately 25 miles southeast of Las Vegas. The project is scheduled to be commissioned in January 2022.
  • 200 MW Solar + 50 MW Energy Storage Project – In August 2021, American utility, NextEra Energy commissioned the Dodge Flat Energy Center at a site approximately 325 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
  • 200 MW Solar + 75 MW Energy Storage Project French utility, EDF is continuing work on the Arrow Canyon solar plus energy storage project at a site approximately 25 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2023.
  • 101 MW Solar + 25 MW Energy Storage Project – In July 2021, California solar company, Cypress Creek commissioned the Battle Mountain solar plus energy storage project at a site approximately 350 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
  • 100 MW Solar Project + 25 MW Energy Storage Project – American utility, NextEra Energy is continuing work on Fish Springs Ranch solar plus energy storage project at a site approximately 375 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2021.
  • 100 MW Solar Project – In June 2021, Illinois power company, Invenergy commissioned the Mega Solar Array project at a site approximately 30 miles north of Las Vegas.

Conclusions

Nevada has no commercial coal deposits[6]. The coal used to fuel Nevada’s only remaining coal-fired power plant is imported by rail from Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.

In 2005, 51.2 % of Nevada’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants[7]. In May 2021, 6.5 % of the state’s electricity was generated from coal. Why the decrease?

  1. Economics The cost to generate power from wind, solar, hydropower, and even natural gas is significantly cheaper than coal. The cost to generate power from coal-fired plants is over twice the cost of wind or solar.
  2. EnvironmentCoal ash, the product of coal burned in a power plant contains arsenic, mercury, and lead; which are toxic. In 2019, coal ash was reported to have contaminated the ground water around 241 coal-fired plants in America[8].
  3. Climate Change Coal generates 40% to 45% more greenhouse gases than natural gas.

In 2005, Nevada used renewable energy to generate 7.8 % of the state’s electricity[9]. In May 2021, Nevada used renewable energy to generate 40.2 % of the state’s electricity!

Nevada’s utilities are ahead of schedule to meet the state’s Energy Portfolio Standard of selling 50% of all electricity from renewables by 2030.  The Silver State is going green.

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

www.jackkerfoot.com

 

[1] Nevada Population 2021, World Population Review

[2] U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis

[3] Biggest Industries in Nevada – World Atlas

[4] National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, January 4, 2021

[5] U.S. Energy Information Agency – Nevada Profile and Energy Estimates, www.eia.gov

[6] U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2018

[7] U.S. Energy Information Agency, Nevada Electric Power Consumption Estimates 1960 – 2018

[8] Reuters, “Coal Ash Contaminates Groundwater Near Most U.S. Coal Plants: Study” by Valerie Volcovici, March 3, 2019

[9] U.S. Energy Information Agency – Nevada Profile and Energy Estimates, Electricity Power Consumption Estimates 1960-2018

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