Solar Power Services
What does hydrogeology have to do with solar power? Quite a lot. For instance, according to the U.S. DOE, U.S., a coal fired plant uses 110 to 300 gallons per megawatt hour; a nuclear plant uses between 500 and 1100 gallons/MWh; and a solar parabolic trough plant uses 760 -920 gallons/MWh. Clearly there are strong environmental benefits to solar power, but those come at a very high water cost, commonly in the arid west.
Water demand is typically high for a variety of solar power operations including both concentrated solar thermal power and photovoltaic power. Water is principally used as a cooling medium for both wet and dry cooled solar thermal systems, but significant quantities of water are also necessary for the 1 to 3 year construction periods for new plants as wells as for operation and maintenance (e.g., cleaning collector components). In the prime solar generation development areas groundwater is typically the only economical and sustainable water resource local to the development.
Permitting groundwater as a long-term water supply is a complex and involved process. Fortunately AVI is experienced and knowledgeable in this field and can guide the water supply development through all of the phases of resource exploration. This includes testing and impact analysis required for 1041, Conditional Use, and Special Use permitting for private property developments and the more involved NEPA process (EIS) for federal property (e.g., BLM) developments.
AVI has supported the development of groundwater resources for several large-scale solar plants including CSP and PV technologies. In addition, our strong GIS capabilities allow us to assist in considering other siting factors, like, topography, solar insolation, land use, sensitive habitats and species, cultural resources and others. AVI can assist power developers in finding smart, lasting and effective solutions in solar development and siting.