Abandoned Power Plant Turns Into Solar Farm

The abandoned Phipps Bend Nuclear Power Plant is now producing CO2-free electricity thanks to a newly built 1-megawatt solar farm.  

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Phipps Bend nuclear plant

Birdseye Renewable Energy joined forces with United Renewable Energy to design and construct a solar farm in Hawkins County, Tenn. The 1-megawatt solar power facility was built on the site of the abandoned Phipps Bend nuclear power plant near Surgoinsville, Tenn.

The solar array comprises almost 3,000 ground mount solar panels on four acres adjacent to the gray concrete structures that were abandoned mid-construction. The Phipps Bend panels utilize a tracking system that adjusts the angle of the panels to receive optimal sunlight throughout the day. The energy generated at the facility is sold to Holston Electric as part of Tennessee Valley Authority’s Distributed Solar Solutions program. The project is said to provide sufficient energy to power 100 average-sized homes.

“We are proud to work with Birdseye on this exciting project to bring solar energy to east Tennessee. Due to its location, this project visibly demonstrates how clean, efficient solar energy matches other forms of power generation to meet our country’s growing energy needs,” Keith Herbs, executive vice president of United Renewable Energy, said in a prepared statement.

Phipps Bend’s History

The Phipps Bend Nuclear Power Plant began construction in 1978. The project was expected to revitalize the area’s economy and the electricity it generated was supposed to power the entire coverage area of the Tennessee Valley Authority. However, the decrease in energy demand and the drop in prices just a few years into the project led TVA’s Board of Directors to cease construction in 1981. The plant was never operational.  

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons