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Halcyon CEO: Plan to build hydrogen plant in Nye differs from other proposals

Nye County is no stranger to developers eyeing its lands for renewable energy projects and yet another new company is aiming to open operations near Pahrump, with Halcyon Energy First Nations proposing a large-scale solar facility in the area.

While Halcyon’s proposal has similarities to other energy projects in the region, company CEO Monte Burton said it includes key differences, including a contractual guarantee that would return a percentage of the company’s profits to the community.

According to the company’s plans, the main purpose of Halcyon’s facility would be the production of clean hydrogen — a commodity that is seeing increasing demand as transportation technology advances.

“Halcyon Energy First Nations, a subsidiary of Halcyon Energy Solutions, plans to construct a nominal 500 MW solar plant in Nye County for the principal purpose of producing large quantities of ‘green’ hydrogen to supply the expanding electric vehicle industry and other industries that are planning to reduce their emissions,” a press release explains. “The term ‘green’ being given to hydrogen that is produced solely from energy derived from the sun, having zero emissions in the process. It is fully expected that Halcyon will create what may eventually be the largest ‘green’ hydrogen hub in the country.”

Halcyon’s solar plant would not use common photovoltaic solar panels, but instead high-concentrated photovoltaics, a new technology in the industry.

“State-of the-art technologies will be used to achieve much higher efficiencies of solar energy conversion than are capable from the large PV (photovoltaic) farms that are scattered around the state,” a press release states. “In fact, more than twice as efficient. Based upon the application of new solar generating technology, known as High Concentrated Photovoltaics (HCPV), the new system concentrates the sun’s radiation onto a solar cell, similar to using a magnifying glass to burn leaves. With multiple cells fitted to a module, a tracking system continuously powers the modules to follow the path of the sun throughout the day. Banks of batteries will be charged during the daytime hours for release during the night, for 24 hour per day base load supply.”

Power produced over and above the amount needed for hydrogen production would not be leaving the state, either, with Burton explaining that of the initial 500 megawatts of power the facility is planned to generate, approximately 300 megawatts would be dedicated to hydrogen production. The remaining electricity would then be transmitted onto the local grid, supplying competitively priced power to the residents of Nye County, rather than being sold to companies outside of the state.

The project also comes as a part of an act passed during the Trump administration, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This created the Federal Opportunity Zone program, which Burton noted Halcyon will be utilizing. As part of that program, the company will be obligated to use a local workforce. In many cases, companies develop new operations that require specific skills and often bring in staff members from other parts of the country, a fact that has caused frustration among Nevadans in the past.

This will not be the case with Halcyon, Burton pledged.

Opportunity Zone

The purpose of the Federal Opportunity Zone program is meant to spur economic growth and job development on a local level in “distressed” areas of the U.S. A swathe of the southern end of Nye County has been defined as “distressed” as a result of population census track information. In return for investing in such communities, investors can receive certain tax benefits. However, they must also ensure that all conditions of the Opportunity Zone program are met in order to realize those benefits.

“The locals, they have to have first right of opportunity for the jobs that are created. If they don’t have the skills, then we have to set up training programs with the local community college and also the university,” Burton told the Times, emphasizing, “That has to be done.”

Burton added that the hydrogen side of the project is just the first phase of Halcyon’s plans. The company intends to expand into the production of ammonia and fertilizers in the future, too.

Halcyon has a long way to go before it can see its vision become reality, however, with an array of engineering and permitting approvals needed to authorize the development of the facility. In the meantime, Burton said he wants to get the word out about Halcyon’s intentions, specifically when it comes to providing those many lauded benefits.

Halcyon’s legal team has drawn up a contract of sorts, to be entered into in some manner with the citizens of Nye County.

“Halcyon Energy agrees to return 10% of Halcyon Energy’s net profits from the production of clean energy to the residents of Nye County,” the proposed contract reads. “Halcyon Energy agrees to partner with local institutions of higher education and vocational institutions to establish and/or expand programs directed at producing a well-trained pool of Nye County residents for employment by Halcyon Energy and other businesses that may locate or relocate to Nye County in one or more commercial facilities powered by Halcyon Energy’s clean energy.

“Halcyon Energy agrees to support local organizations that promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs, the arts and other organizations to improve the community life of the Nye County residents,” the contract continues. “Finally, Halcyon Energy agrees to partner with local Christian churches, Christian schools and other Christian organizations to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.”

Certain details of the project, such as precisely where it is proposed to be located, are still under wraps for now but company officials said they will continue to update the community as the project moves forward.

Halcyon will also be holding town hall meetings in the coming months to engage with area residents about the project.

Burton can be emailed at MBurton@HalcyonEnergy.tech.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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