J-Power subsidiary to turn Virginia coal plant into solar-plus-storage facility

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Image: J-Power USA

Japanese power company J-Power is to convert a retired coal plant in the US into a 240MW solar-plus-storage facility through its local subsidiary.

J-Power USA, wholly owned by the Tokyo-based power producer, will work with funds managed by Fortress Investment Group to develop a 50MWac capacity solar facility and 190MWac battery energy storage system in Virginia. Called the Birchwood solar and storage project, construction is set to begin next year, with the facilities coming online in 2023.

The announcement comes after the closure of the coal-fired Birchwood Power plant last month, which has been in operation in King George, Virginia, since 1996 and became 50% owned by J-Power in 2007.

The new renewable power system will be J-Power’s third solar project in the US, according to a statement from the company, which said it will continue to “pursue the growth of overseas power business including renewables”.

It benefits from an existing transmission infrastructure, J-Power USA said, which can be applied to the new solar and storage power generation systems.

Re-purposing the coal plant, J-Power’s only coal-fired power asset, as a carbon free generation and storage facility, would enable it to deliver “reliable electricity generation to the marketplace”, the company’s statement said.

Mark Condon, J-Power’s president and chief executive, called the initiative an “exciting opportunity” that would increase the company’s renewable power capacity.

J-Power is not the only power company switching from coal to solar this year. Clean investment vehicle The Black Sunrise Half Century Fund said in January that it will partner with North Carolina’s Orbital Sun Services to convert coal-fired power plants into solar farms, installing around 1GW of new renewable capacity in three years.

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