Energy corridor pushing TVA projects

OAK RIDGE, TENNESSEE - Wasted heat from a gas turbine could be boosted by solar power, converted into electricity and sold to the Tennessee Valley Authority on peak demand days.

That proposed Integrated Solar Combined Cycle plant is one of several energy-related projects on the front burner under an initiative that observed its anniversary.

More than 60 people heard an update on efforts by the Oak Ridge Energy Corridor to focus on cutting-edge energy generation and conservation projects in the Oak Ridge-Knoxville region.

The initiative, born two years ago, also is seeking ways to make Oak Ridge National Laboratory carbon-neutral by 2030 and to install hundreds of solar-charging stations in the area for electric cars.

"My suggestion is we keep pressing ahead — hard," Gerald Boyd, manager of the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge office, said of Energy Corridor efforts.

Boyd said the initiative is intended "to make our area a national model for research and deployment of the energy solutions of tomorrow."

"From an economic engine perspective, it would really be a benefit over time," Boyd said.

The gas-solar project is being eyed at East Tennessee Technology Park — the former K-25 uranium enrichment site in West Oak Ridge, said Gary Gilmartin, executive director of the Energy Corridor.

It would be built on the 40-acre site of a former coal-fired power plant at K-25 that DOE is about to give to a local economic development group, he said.

Two firms have teamed up to push the project, which hinges on TVA agreeing to buy the electricity it produces, Gilmartin said.

Of all the energy projects under study by the Energy Corridor, that proposal is most likely to advance soonest, perhaps within the year, he said.

It would generate power around the clock and provide some 20 to 40 jobs, according to an initiative overview.

The Energy Corridor also is pushing for construction by TVA of a small modular nuclear reactor on the old Clinch River Breeder Reactor site in Oak Ridge, Gilmartin said. It would be the first modular nuclear facility built in the U.S.

Gilmartin said several businesses have invested in the Energy Corridor, and more corporate benefactors are being sought.

The Energy Corridor, he said, "serves as a vision for the future of East Tennessee that promotes energy security, environmental sustainability, economic competitiveness and an increase in job growth."


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