For decades, the coal-fired generating station at Brayton Point near Fall River, Massachusetts was one of the dirtiest power plants in New England. Last month, its 500 foot high cooling towers were dynamited to begin making room for the next use of the Brayton Point property — a renewable energy hub.
This week, Anbaric, a Boston-based company that focuses on electric transmission systems, announced that it plans to invest about $650 million at Brayton Point to support the growing offshore wind industry, according to a report by TV 10 News in Providence. The company says it will build a 1,200-megawatt high voltage direct current converter as well as 400 megawatt-hours of battery storage on site. An estimated 600,000 homes will be powered by the new facility.
“That is a way of dealing with the intermittency of the wind, so wind and storage together is what we hope to bring here,” says Anbaric CEO Edward Kraples. “At the end of the day, the most difficult thing we have to do is to get the permits to lay a cable on the ocean floor. What’s ideal about Somerset is…..we’re right on the water, so the amount of onshore work we have to do is actually extremely limited. That’s what we like about Brayton Point.”
The project is expected to create hundreds of jobs during the construction phase. The renewable energy hub is scheduled to being supplying electricity to the local grid in 2023.
Anbaric is not the only company that Commercial Development Company, which is in charge of repurposing the site, expects to attract. “This site is about 300 acres. We have about 140 acres that can be developed. And of that 140 acres, I think Anbaric needs about 12,” said Stephen Collins of CDC. As part of the transition, most of the building that housed the old generating station will be dismantled and there is still a 600 foot tall smokestack that needs to be demolished.
Turning a dinosaur from the era of coal into a hub for renewable energy is an important sign that the clean energy revolution is moving forward. Massachusetts and nearby Rhode Island are planning for an extensive array of offshore wind turbines along their coasts. Getting that electricity where it needs to go is a difficult challenge.
Reusing the grid connections from the old Brayton Point facility will avoid the expense of constructing new transmission lines. There are plans afoot to do something similar at the obsolete nuclear power generating station at Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Fossil fuel apologists like to wring their hands and whine about how expensive it is to build new transmission infrastructure to service renewables, but they never utter a peep about the cost of building new natural gas pipelines or coal loading stations that threaten coastal resources. Fortunately, instead of crying in their beer, the folks at Anbaric are able to see how to reuse existing infrastructure in a way that will further drive down the cost of providing clean renewable energy.