BrightNight to Transform Retired Starfire Mine into Solar Hub – Rivian to Purchase 100 MW for EVs
In a major shift in the energy transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, Starfire Mine, a former major coal mine in the US, is set to become a solar power hub. The announcement was made Tuesday by Martin Hermann, CEO of international renewable power producer BrightNight, alongside RJ Scaringe, Founder and CEO of Rivian Automotive Inc., and Jennifer Morris, CEO of The Nature Conservancy.
Once fully operational, the BrightNight Starfire Renewable Energy Center will boast an 800-megawatt (MW) capacity, enough to cater to the electricity needs of over 170,000 households annually. From a $1 billion investment BrightNight Starfire will be the largest renewable energy project in Kentucky, as well as among the largest nationwide initiatives repurposing former mining land.
The project also includes BrightNight’s plans to construct a transmission line stretching up to 20 miles. The new transmission line will pave the way for an additional 1 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy generation in the region, providing a blueprint for similar energy transformation projects across the country.
Starfire’s transformation will span four stages, with the commencement of Phase 1 set for 2025.
Startup EV automaker, Rivian, has agreed to procure 100 MW of renewable energy from Phase 1, enough energy to power nearly 450 million miles of renewable driving annually. The Nature Conservancy, an environmental nonprofit, will also acquire up to 2.5 MW of renewable energy credits to support its sustainability goals.
“Shifting our energy system toward carbon neutrality goes beyond electrifying the roughly 1.5 billion vehicles in the global fleet,” said Rivian Founder and CEO RJ Scaringe. “We must also support the decarbonization of our energy infrastructure through the responsible deployment of renewable energy. We are thrilled to collaborate with organizations like The Nature Conservancy and BrightNight to bring Starfire to life and help create a scalable model for a modern grid that provides reliable, affordable, and carbon free energy for all.”
The Starfire Renewable Energy Center was selected through a rigorous competitive process established by The Nature Conservancy and Rivian. The process prioritizes projects that promote an equitable and science-backed transition to clean energy, benefit climate, conservation, and communities, known as the “3Cs”. Rivian and The Nature Conservancy have also co-developed a public guide called “Power with Purpose,” detailing this strategy along with resources for industry leaders to implement environmentally and socially driven clean energy projects.
As Phase 1 construction gets underway, BrightNight, Rivian, and The Nature Conservancy will intensify their efforts to engage local communities, determining development priorities, securing land needed for transmission lines, and remaining environmentally conscious during site design.
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