Author: PV-Tech

Danish clean energy fund draws US$700m from Nordic investors eyeing Asia and LATAM

Fund management firm Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) has established a new fund to invest in greenfield renewable energy infrastructure primarily in Asia and Latin America, with expectations of reaching US$1 billion by the final close.

The Copenhagen Infrastructure New Markets Fund I K/S (CI NMF I) reached a US$700 million first close on 9 May with commitments from cornerstone investors PensionDanmark (PD), Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension (ATP), Kommunal Landspensjonskasse (KLP), and Lægernes Pension. Three of the organisations have also been cornerstone investors in other CIP funds, but ATP is a new cornerstone investor.

The fund will also focus on certain countries in Eastern Europe and Africa.

“Obtaining first close commitments of US$700m from a group of leading Nordic investors is an important proof of investor confidence in CIP’s approach to energy infrastructure investments and a testament to the track record built with CIP’s Western Europe and North America focused energy infrastructure funds CI I, CI II, and CI III,” said Jakob Baruël Poulsen, managing partner in CIP. ”The CI NMF I is a significant step in CIP’s continued expansion as it broadens our offering to also include infrastructure funds targeted at fast-growing major new economies.”

”CIP has come a long way since PensionDanmark and CIP’s senior partners established CI I back in 2012 with PD as sole and founding investor. CIP has demonstrated its ability to develop and construct renewable infrastructure projects in Europe and America on time and budget and has delivered very attractive returns to its investors. We see the New Markets Fund as a natural next step to broaden the investment universe to new markets in Asia and Latin America where there is a significant need for renewable energy investments that represents attractive investment opportunities for CIP and its investors,” said Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO at PensionDenmark

CI NMF I will apply the same value creation and de-risking approach as CIP’s existing OECD-focused funds and invest in offshore and onshore wind, solar PV, biomass and waste-to-energy and transmission grid systems among others.

CIP is a fund management company focused on energy infrastructure including offshore wind, onshore wind, solar PV, biomass and energy-from-waste, transmission and distribution, and other energy assets like reserve capacity and storage. CIP manages five funds and has ~€7.5bn under management.

Last August, CIP started construction on two solar projects totalling 300MWac in the US.

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Walmart closes deal with C2 Energy for 46 PV projects

C2 Energy Capital has signed off on 46 Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and leases with Walmart that will see the company provide renewable energy to the retailer in five US states. 

These deals, totalling around 40MW of capacity, fall in line with Walmart’s goal of having 50% of its operations powered by renewable energy by 2025.

These 46 PV projects will generate more than 65,000,000kWh of renewable energy annually, enough of an energy output to power nearly 5,500 homes. These installations are expected to cover 10-60% of each stores’ overall electricity use.

Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy for Walmart Inc., said: “Solar is a vital component of Walmart’s expanding renewable energy portfolio. Walmart plans to tirelessly pursue renewable energy projects that are right for our customers, our business and the environment. These planned projects with C2 Energy Capital are moving us in the right direction toward our renewable energy goals.”

This new deal comes one year after Walmart chose C2 Energy Capital to install 13 rooftop solar projects in South Carolina. All 13 projects are now operational. 

Candice Michalowicz, co-founder and managing member of C2, said: “Walmart is a seasoned expert at onsite solar generation, and they have high expectations for their vendor partners. We are honored to be a part of their renewable energy program, and the important steps they are taking that will benefit the local communities and the environment.”

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Residential flourishes and utility flounders in mixed 2018 for US PV

Tariff and policy uncertainty saw installations decline across US utility and non-residential PV last year even as the residential segment bounced back, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie.

The latest update from the trade body and the consultancy found a 7% year-on-year dip for US utility-scale PV installations in 2018.

The segment, the analysis found, produced the bulk (6.2GW) of PV-wide capacity additions (10.6GW) in the country last year but faltered under “disruption, delay and even cancellation” due to Section 201 tariffs.

Adopted last year, the US levies on module and cell imports prompted sponsors to postpone 2018 commercial launches to 2019, according to the SEIA and Wood Mackenzie. In the Carolinas, delays were compounded by a hold-up with interconnections under the PURPA programme.

For utility-scale PV, the flip side to the Section 201 tariffs was that module prices are falling faster than expected. This, the analysis pointed out, boosted competitiveness and helped drive the signing of 13.2GW of utility solar PPAs in 2018; the resulting, current contracted pipeline of 25.3GW marks an all-time record for US solar. 

PV in US power addition top two for sixth year running

According to the SEIA and Wood Mackenzie, the 10.6GW added across all PV subcategories in 2018 marks the sixth consecutive year where solar is amongst the US top two for power additions, together with natural gas.

Unlike utility solar, the residential segment reversed its decline throughout 2017 by recording in 2018 year-on-year installation growth of 7%. The steady pace of addition indicates the market is nearing its maturity point, the new analysis indicates.

According to the document, installations across California, Massachusetts and the other typical residential heavyweights are being fast overtaken by new-entrants including Texas and Florida.

Future residential growth can be fuelled by incentives and net metering – Nevada saw a 261% jump in 2018 after reinstating the policy – but could be hindered by high customer acquisition costs, the SEIA and Wood Mackenzie noted.

Their analysis found a slight decline – 8% – in non-residential installations of US PV in 2018. Massachusetts and California alone saw a joint 450MW dip last year, although the former (64% drop) bore the brunt to a greater extent than the latter (17%).

See here for more information on the US Solar Market Insight by the SEIA and Wood Mackenzie

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US solar feeling ‘invincible’ after navigating treacherous year

There’s nearly always a positive vibe at a trade show. A combination of the organisers’ best efforts and the virtuous circle of talking to like-minded people all day, which is great for your brain chemistry, leaves you feeling lighter than you may on an average day in the trenches. It doesn’t necessarily mean what’s happening beyond the showfloor warrants the smiles and backslapping taking place on it.

With that caveat at the forefront of my own mind, I have to say that Solar Power International 2018 felt extremely positive. I’m a dour, sceptical Scotsman. Provoking enthusiastic positivity for anything can be a slog.

Context could be king in this instance. The industry has dealt with steel tariffs, the Section 201 trade barriers, the drop in demand for tax credits and, just before the show began, 25% tariffs on Chinese inverters. Having ridden out all that and having conversations about new solar States opening up to deployment, module prices falling and trackers carrying on their march to higher latitudes, is fairly remarkable. New projects, new technologies and new opportunities.

“In general, there’s a really positive feeling of invincibility to the market,” says Steve Daniel, VP of sales and marketing at mounting and tracker manufacturer Solar FlexRack. “Back in March, I didn’t think we were going to feel this way in September. It’s been very difficult with the tariffs, we’ve just had to work through them but we haven’t seen much drop off because of module or steel tariffs.”

That’s not to say that there hasn’t been some pain but as Daniel describes it, this is being shared.

“Everyone has lowered their margins a little bit and their expectations, but the projects are still moving. There’s been a few delays, but there are always delays in solar projects. Anything can happen and I’ve seen everything. It doesn’t feel that different. It’s just another set of issues to work through,” he adds.

What’s next in the US calendar? Solar & Storage Finance USA returns to New York for its 5th time later this month and will be looking at raising capital for solar, storage and collocated solar and storage projects in the USA. The conference aims to help delegates understand how debt providers are evolving propositions for storage and how they can access projects for standalone and co-located projects. Meet debt providers, funders, utilities, corporate off takers and blue chip energy firms with capital to invest.

There is lots of talk about some of the lumpiest boom and bust markets (think Europe) heading towards a period of growth that is more sustainable. The testing year that the US has just ridden out is another example.

“I think there is a resiliency in the industry that people have built up. I’ve been doing this for eleven years now and every year there is something new and we just figure out a way to keep going,” says Daniel adding that the end demand for solar is contributing factor now the “economics are fantastic” and “undeniable”.

Joe Song, VP of project operations at the developer and investor Sol Systems is reluctant to make a prediction for the coming year. He sees one outside factor contributing to some of the positivity.

“The only that has ever been true is that whatever we expect to happen, will definitely not happen! We went into 2017 thinking all these projects were going to progress and then 201 came around and it paralysed the industry. Everyone went into this year thinking no projects were going to happen. Come May the China market pivoted and it opened up a whole lot of opportunities.”

In addition to the scope for using high-efficiency modules, off the back of those price reductions sparked by China’s policy shift, trackers, emerging US markets and an increasingly hard line on soft costs offer plenty of reason to cheer. Even for a dour Scotsman.

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The 2018 Virginia Energy Plan calls for 3GW of solar and wind installations by 2022

The Commonwealth of Virginia’s new energy plan has called for 3GW of solar and wind installations by 2022 as well as grid modernization to handle both solar and wind totalling 5GW by 2028.

Virginia’s Governor, Ralph Northam released the State’s ‘2018 Virginia Energy Plan’, which provides policy over the next 10 years that is intended to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency and grid modernization for renewables and the transition to electric vehicles. 

Virginia’s utility companies are expected to collectively invest US$115 million per-year in energy efficiency programs, alone.

The plan also calls for 3GW of solar and onshore wind to be deployed by 2022, and 2GW of offshore wind to be deployed by 2028.

“The clean energy sector has the power to create new business opportunities, expand customer access to renewable energy, and spark the high-demand jobs of the 21st century,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia can shift to a more modern electric grid that is reliable, affordable, resilient, and environmentally responsible—and the Commonwealth can lead this critical industry as a result. This plan sets an ambitious path forward for Virginia, and I am confident we will charge ahead towards progress over the course of my administration.”

According to the US Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the 2018 Virginia Energy Plan was an important step for the state to expand solar energy installations over the next 10 years. 

“Governor Northam deserves credit for his leadership on clean energy and for establishing goals that are aligned with business and the public’s desire for energy that is affordable, creates jobs, protects the environment and grows Virginia’s economy,” noted Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs for the SEIA. “The solar industry will work with policy leaders, manufacturers and installers across Virginia to meet these benchmarks.”

The SEIA also noted that Virginia was currently ranked 17th in the US for its 635MW of installed solar capacity and supported more than 3,500 jobs and nearly 200 companies across the state.

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Cypress Creek gets US$200 million equity investment from Singapore firm

US solar developer Cypress Creek Renewables has received a US$200 million investment from the Singapore-based firm Temasek.

The funds have been used to purchase preferred stock and warrants for a 10% common stock stake. Two independent directors will be added to the Cypress board. Last month Temasek, which is owned by the Singapore government, led an investment round that provided Cypress with a US$450 million credit facility.

In a statement, the company said the latest equity investment would be used to extend and deliver upon its portfolio of projects.

“Temasek has shown itself to be a patient, forward-looking partner focused on generating sustainable long-term returns – and it is this shared vision that makes expansion of our relationship quite natural,” said Matt McGovern, CEO, Cypress. “The confidence Temasek has shown in our business model and development portfolio is a firm endorsement of our strategy, which we look forward to refining and executing on in tandem in the years to come.”

In May, Cypress said it would be delaying around 1.5GW of projects as it reassessed the market following President Trump’s Section 201 trade tariffs on cell and module imports.

“Our strategy focuses on creating markets, originating projects and allocating capital to the most attractive risk-adjusted opportunities, with success being driven by our ability to navigate development, structural and financial complexities as well as assessing and pricing risk,” added Brad Bauer, Cypress’ chief capital markets officer.

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Pacific Power to support Facebook’s Prineville Data Center with 437MW of solar

Facebook’s Prineville Data Center in Oregon will be supported by 100% renewable energy from 437MW of new solar developments in partnership with Pacific Power, including two projects totaling 100MW in the Prineville area.

“This partnership bolsters Prineville’s 21st century model for a small-town,” Oregon Governor Kate Brown said. “With projects like these, we continue to demonstrate that Oregon is ready for the clean energy economy of the future.”

“Our work with Pacific Power to develop new solar resources represents a significant milestone for our hyper-efficient Prineville Data Center. We are committed to supporting 100% renewable energy, and we are thrilled to have found a solution for our first data center,” said Peter Freed, Facebook’s energy strategy manager.

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FlexGen to build largest energy storage system in Texas co-located with solar

Texas IPP Vistra Energy has contracted energy storage integrator FlexGen to install a 10MW / 42MWh energy storage system (ESS) at the 180MW Upton 2 Solar Power Plant in Texas.   

The lithium-ion storage system, which uses FlexGen’s Hybrid OS software, will be completed in late 2018. It will be the largest storage project in Texas and the seventh largest in the US.

“Vistra is leading our country’s transformation toward a reliable, low cost, sustainable energy mix and we’re thrilled to be supporting its storage strategy,” said Josh Prueher, FlexGen CEO. “The power grid of the future will see energy storage integrated on site with solar, wind, and gas generation, and the Upton solar plus storage project is a trailblazing example.”

FlexGen is backed by Altira Group, General Electric (GE) and Caterpillar. Its storage system will be used to store solar power generated during the day and deliver it to customers during evening hours when demand is greatest, improving grid reliability.

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8minutenergy and NV Energy to build 300MW Nevada solar project on tribal land

NV Energy has chosen US-based developer 8minutenergy Renewables to develop the 300MW(AC) Eagle Shadow Mountain Solar Farm in Clark County, Nevada, next to a retiring coal plant.

The project will be built on the Moapa River Indian Reservation about 30 miles north of Las Vegas, and will be the largest solar installation to date built on tribal land. It will also be the largest solar PV project built for NV Energy, and it comes as part of its latest tranche of renewable projects totaling over 1GW.  In a release, NV Energy said the farm will be built on non-agricultural land using environmentally sensitive construction.

Subject to final approval by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, the project will commence construction in mid-2020, and be operational by the end of 2021. The project’s development and construction is also expected to create well over 600 jobs in Clark County.

“We’re proud to be leading the way in supporting the development of clean solar energy on tribal lands,” said Gregory T. Anderson senior chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribal Council. “Eagle Shadow Mountain Solar Farm will be special in particular as it’s being built beside a retiring coal plant on our lands, signifying the affordability and importance of renewable energy. We hope to shepherd the way for many other tribes to adopt clean power.”

“We are honored to be working with NV Energy and the Moapa Band of Paiutes to bring this remarkable project to fruition,” said Martin Hermann, CEO and founder of 8minutenergy. “The Eagle Shadow Mountain Solar Farm will deliver abundant and affordable energy to about 180,000 Nevada homes, providing them with reliable clean power. This will also be the largest standalone project in 8minutenergy’s portfolio, and we are dedicated to upholding our track record of finalizing the plant’s operation on-time and on-budget.”

“We are delighted to be working with 8minutenergy and other top-tier solar developers to bring over one gigawatt of low-cost clean solar power and energy storage to our customers in Nevada,” said Paul Caudill, CEO of NV Energy. “This landmark group of projects will help diversify our state’s electricity generation portfolio at industry-leading costs. We calculate that the direct investment in Nevada’s economy, which includes the cost of construction, will be greater than $2 billion.”

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Oregon utility seeks 100 ‘average megawatts’ of renewables

UPDATED: Oregon-based utility Portland General Electric Company (PGE) has issued a request for proposals (RfP) seeking 100 average megawatts (MWa) of renewable energy capacity.

Conrad Eustis, director of Retail Technology Strategy at PGE, said that 1MWa is equivalent to 8,760MWh – adding: “Thus to get 10MWa from rooftop solar in our service area you would need about 91MW of rooftop solar installations, or 62MW of solar with single-axis tracking, or about 50MW of solar with single-axis tracking if installed in Eastern Oregon (but then you’ll need a transmission path).”

Projects must be a minimum of 10MW in size and can use a range of technologies including geothermal, biomass, biogas, solar, wind and hydroelectric power. Bids can also be structured in a variety of ways, including power purchase agreements (PPAs) or proposals for facilities that PGE would own and operate.

PGE shared the RfP in draft form with potential bidders and stakeholders earlier this year, and on 16 May received final approval from Oregon Public Utility Commission to move forward with the competitive bidding process.

“We are committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Maria Pope, PGE’s president and CEO. “Continuing to add renewable resources to our mix while keeping electricity affordable for our customers is key to that effort.”

Portland and the entire county of Multnomah have pledged to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Article updated to clarify that RfP is for 100 average megawatts.

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