Work starting on 13,000-acre solar farm in two Indiana counties

An Israeli company has started work to build a solar energy farm that’s planned to cover some 13,000 acres across two northern Indiana counties when completed.

Executives of Doral Renewables took part in a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday with Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and local officials for the project that is estimated to cost $1.5 billion to build over the next few years.

The project, dubbed Mammoth Solar, will see solar panels erected in Starke and Pulaski counties, generating electricity that Doral will sell under a long-term agreement to American Electric Power for the Columbus, Ohio-based utility company to increase its renewable energy capacity.

The solar farm’s first phase is expected become operational by mid-2023 and will produce 400 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 75,000 households, according to the company. Construction is planned to start next year on other phases of the farm, which will ultimately generate 1.65 gigawatts of electricity as they begin operating in 2024.

Proposals for large solar farms have faced opposition in some places over loss of farmland.

But Starke County Commissioner Mark Gourley said he was excited about the project coming to the rural area about 50 miles southwest of South Bend.

“I’ve never in my life seen anything like this project here,” Gourley said. “This energy that we harvest here in Starke County is going to enrich lives throughout the county.”

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Gilad Erdan joined in the groundbreaking ceremony after Holcomb traveled to Israel in May to show support for the country after the 11-day war between Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers.

“We stand together when our economies are attached,” Erdan said. “We are now building the future here on Indiana’s soil.”

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11 thoughts on “Work starting on 13,000-acre solar farm in two Indiana counties

  1. It’s tough to apples-to-apples compare a Solar plant to legacy power plants in terms of MW, since solar isn’t 100% uptime – but I can see that they’re factoring in around a 25% long-term output rate. Any 400 MW coal, gas, nuclear, or hydro plant could power 300,0000 homes day and night, so it’s clear that the 75,000 homes they’re estimating takes that into account.

    1. Interesting about the farming. I suspect that if energy crops (like corn for ethanol), the energy output per acre would be lower than the solar panels, plus you still have carbon emissions.

    2. I could also see many suburban back yards with this kind of solar canopy with the right tax credits to encourage it.

    3. I believe I saw that article but I don’t see anything about how to harvest such crops. The mounting structure for panels that have to be mounted a little higher are more expensive and the ones I have seen that purport to be able to be used in this way have to be spaced so that equipment can get to the crops and typical harvesters can’t be used.
      Like so much of solar, its a good idea but the idea is still a little ahead of its time. Until solar can be turned off and on and either moved or stored in such a way that it is convenient it is going to be problematic.
      Generally speaking, without massive massive amounts of money, it still does not pay for itself.

    1. Look into the amount of subsides that coal gets first.

      ====

      The fossil fuel industry benefits from subsidies of $11m every minute, according to analysis by the International Monetary Fund.

      The IMF found the production and burning of coal, oil and gas was subsidised by $5.9tn in 2020, with not a single country pricing all its fuels sufficiently to reflect their full supply and environmental costs. Experts said the subsidies were “adding fuel to the fire” of the climate crisis, at a time when rapid reductions in carbon emissions were urgently needed.

      Explicit subsidies that cut fuel prices accounted for 8% of the total and tax breaks another 6%. The biggest factors were failing to make polluters pay for the deaths and poor health caused by air pollution (42%) and for the heatwaves and other impacts of global heating (29%).

      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/06/fossil-fuel-industry-subsidies-of-11m-dollars-a-minute-imf-finds

  2. Put solar canopies over parking lots. They will produce power AND shade the cars. People won’t have to run their cars’ a/c so hard, thus saving gas and producing less pollution.

    Float solar panels on retention ponds and irrigation canals. They will produce power AND reduce evaporation of increasingly precious water.

    These things are easy and are being done now.

    1. 1000% agree with those ideas. In California they already are floating black plastic balls in retention ponds to shade out sunlight and prevent evaporation. It’s costly but they have no water!

    2. Agree. There are many other options that wouldn’t take land that is used as a source of food and livelihoods of farmers.

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