By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE
Missouri’s renewable energy capacity is growing.
Developer Invenergy – which had planned to build its Grain Belt Express transmission line with 4,000 megawatts of capacity and deliver some 10 percent of that to Missouri – said this week it will now construct a 5,000-megawatt line that will distribute half of its power to the Show-Me state, as part of the Chicago-based firm’s expansion throughout Missouri, Illinois and the Midwest.
The company’s plans include a multi-state, phased approach that will begin line construction in Kansas and Missouri first. Invenergy is still acquiring easements on parcels in both states and will employ eminent domain when necessary.
In Illinois, construction continues on the $10.2 million solar energy facility in East St. Louis. Ameren Illinois broke ground on the city’s first-ever clean energy facility in early March. It’s also the first power generation facility owned and operated by Ameren Illinois in the past 25 years. The project is commencing on a 17-acre site on State Street across from the East St. Louis Sr. High School. Guarantee Electrical Company, Azimuth Energy, Terra 5 Construction and Mason Landscaping are among the project partners.
Across the Southwest, renewable energy projects are also robust. Texas’ lead as a clean energy hub is underscored with a record amount of planned solar capacity under development, driven in large part by corporate buyers who need vast amounts of clean energy to power their daytime operations while meeting net-zero targets.
American Council on Renewable Energy President and CEO Gregory Wetstone confirms the Southwest’s standing as a renewable energy leader. He says the emergence of co-located solar-plus-storage projects in Texas and elsewhere further increases the value of solar power generation.
“There are certainly supply chain challenges to overcome, but solar is poised for tremendous growth in the coming years,” he says. “The U.S. offshore wind sector is also growing rapidly, and the potential for offshore wind development in the Gulf of Mexico could be a game-changer for states like Texas and Louisiana.”
Cost reductions in the solar industry, paired with increased performance and efficiency, are spurring the already strong solar market forward, industry analysts agree, with solar energy representing the biggest chunk of the clean energy market nationwide.
Additional renewable energy sources that Texas, Louisiana and other states will more fully embrace in the next 12-24 months include green hydrogen, biofuels and carbon capture and storage.