The Midwest is getting ready for a major boom in large-scale solar, as evidenced by the activity in interconnection queues of the region’s grid operators. Today, two more very large solar projects got the green light by the state of Ohio, which is the tip of the spear for large-scale development in the region.

Specifically, the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) has approved Hecate Energy’s 300 MWac Highland Solar Farm in Highland County, as well as Invenergy’s 170 MWac Hardin Solar Energy Center 2 in Hardin County, which is paired with a 60 MWac battery. Developers plan to begin construction on both of these projects within the next five months, and to complete them in 2020 and 2021.

Either of these projects on their own would dramatically increase the capacity currently online, which Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) put at 202 MWdc as of the end of last year. However, we at pv magazine have found five other large-scale solar projects planned for the state which have been approved by the OPSB and/or hold interconnection agreements; together with the projects approved today these total 1.24 GWac.

These could be the first projects of this scale to come online not only in Ohio, but in the entire Midwest.

Details

Chicago developer Invenergy’s Highland Solar Farm is technically the smaller of the two at 170 MWac, however it is planned to be built adjacent to the original 150 MWac Hardin Solar, and together the two plants will represent a whopping 320 MW. Hardin Solar 1 has already been approved by OPSB, and Invenergy secured long-term leases for the land for the Hardin Solar 2 in July.

The Hardin Solar 2 is notable in that it plans to incorporate a 60 MW lithium-ion battery system, as one of the first large-scale solar projects that pv magazine staff have seen in the Midwest to incorporate battery storage.

As of the filing of the project application Invenergy did not appear to have made a decision as to whether to utilize multicrystalline, monocrystalline or thin film modules. In any cases these modules will be mounted on single-axis trackers, which in turn will be affixed to piles sunk 10 to 15 feet below grade, which Invenergy notes is necessary “in areas with freeze thaw or loose soils, such as Hardin County.”

Like the Hardin 2, Hecate’s Highland Solar Farm initially applied for OPSB approval in October of last year. At that time the project was planned to deploy more than one million crystalline silicon PV modules mounted on single-axis trackers, which will cover 3,300 acres in Clay and Whiteoak townships in southern Ohio’s Highland County.

And while it appears that the Highland Solar Farm is still awaiting interconnection approval by the PJM Interconnection grid, Hecate reports that the project already holds a contract to sell the electricity which it generates.

We will be providing additional details on these projects as they meet more milestones, as well as on other projects. Overall, there are nearly 100 large-scale solar projects in Ohio which have applied to PJM for interconnection and which totaling over 10 GWac; however the organization lists only 750 MWac as having been granted interconnection and reaching the “engineering and procurement” stage.