Category: News

Canadian Solar signs O&M contract with Axium for 105MW PV portfolio in Canada

Canadian Solar has signed an Operations & Maintenance (O&M) agreement with Axium Infinity Solar LP for eight PV projects that have a combined generation capacity of 105.5MW.

The eight installations, all located in Ontario, Canada,  are named Brockville I, Brockville II, Burrits Rapids, Mississippi Mills, William Rutley, and New Liskeard I, III, and IV.

As a result of the O&M deal, Canadian Solar will be tasked with monitoring the plant, along with performance management, preventative maintenance, and corrective maintenance at all eight facilities.

Canadian Solar’s O&M portfolio in Ontario is now tabbed at 497MW, with over 1GW in operation or contracted across the world.

Dr. Shawn Qu, chairman and chief executive officer of Canadian Solar, said: “As one of the leading providers of solar products and solutions worldwide for 16 years with extensive experience operating and maintaining our own solar facilities, offering Operations and Maintenance services to customers was a natural extension of our value proposition.”

Canadian Solar announces commercial operation of 19.1MW PV project in Japan

Canadian Solar’s 19.1MW Gunma Aramaki solar power plant, located approximately 100 kilometres northwest of Tokyo, has officially reached commercial operation.

The Gunma Aramaki solar power plant is powered by approximately 59,544 Canadian Solar’s CS6X MaxPower solar panels and is expected to generate approximately 23,830MWh of clean solar power annually.

Energy generated by the project will be sold to Japan’s largest energy utility, Tokyo Electric Power Company, under a 20-year feed-in-tariff contract at the rate of US$0.32/kWh.

Dr. Shawn Qu, chairman and chief executive officer of Canadian Solar, said: “In 2017, we reached commercial operation on over 100MW of solar power projects in Japan. Our 19.1MW Gunma Aramaki project is the first of our two projects in the Gunma prefecture to have reached commercial operation.

“Today, we have successfully developed solar power plant projects in over 19 prefectures, further enhancing the geographic diversity of the operating portfolio we have developed across Japan.”

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Intersect Power secures PPA for 150MW PV project in Texas

Utility-scale power company Intersect Power has been awarded a power purchase agreement from Austin Energy for a 150MW PV project in Texas that is expected to reach commercial operation in 2020.

Intersect Power, through its IPREH joint venture with Macquarie Infrastructure Corporation, is developing the 150MW project, which will have the capacity to upsize to 180MW.  Located in West Texas, Intersect Power boasts an approximate 687 hectare land lease and ERCOT interconnection for this project.

Sheldon Kimber, CEO and co-founder, Intersect Power, said: “The Intersect Power team has a strong track record of delivering on cost effective solar power. Our expertise in development, design, supply chain and financing allows us to develop projects with compelling economics and this project showcases that capability.”

Jackie Sargent, Austin Energy general manager, added: “This purchase power agreement not only gets us closer to achieving the City’s renewable energy goals, but it’s also a good deal for our customers. I am pleased that we can pursue this affordable project and continue to demonstrate economic and environmental leadership on behalf of our community.”

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Acquisition makes Clean Focus largest C&I solar owner in US

Clean Focus Yield Limited and its affiliates have purchased Greenskies Renewable Energy — making Clean Energy the owner and operator of the largest commercial and industrial (C&I) portfolio in the US.

Greenskies, a vertically-integrated solar company in the US, will continue to operate under its brand and management from its headquarters in Middletown, Connecticut.

Greenskies expects to expand its base of large corporate and retail clients, with the company also planning to build out its 350MW PV project pipeline and expand into new segments including schools, hospitals, and community solar.

Stanley Chin, president and CEO of Clean Focus, said: “Clean Focus is excited to add Greenskies to its integrated group of companies. This acquisition strengthens Greenskies, grows Clean Focus, and provides new opportunities for our customers and financing partners. We look forward to accelerated growth across a wide breadth of markets.”

Will Herchel, president of Greenskies, added: This purchase and investment is the next big step for Greenskies. We have seen explosive growth over the last five years, and this infusion of capital adds jet fuel to our business engine. With the support of Clean Focus, Greenskies will accelerate its growth, and it is better prepared to weather potential headwinds in the solar market.”

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Austin City Council approves 150MW PV project

The Austin City Council has approved a new agreement with Austin Energy that will see the utility company deliver enough renewable energy to the grid to meet the needs of more than half of its customers by 2020.

This goal was reached after the city council approved a contract that will allow the utility to purchase energy generated by a new 150MW PV project — which will boost Austin’s solar capacity to nearly 800MW.

Austin Energy currently produces enough renewable power to meet 40% of its 475,000 customers’ power needs. Once this 150MW PV project is operational, Austin Energy is expected to become 51% renewable in 2020. The agreement approved by the Council calls for the purchase of 150MW from Intersect Power.

This solar contract also allows the utility to purchase an additional 30 MW provided it is feasible and has the same favorable economics. The Intersect agreement will cost an estimated US$10-12 million per year for 15 years.

Jackie Sargent, Austin Energy general manager, said: “This purchase power agreement not only gets us closer to achieving the City’s renewable energy goals, but it’s also a good deal for our customers. I am pleased that we can pursue this affordable project and continue to demonstrate economic and environmental leadership on behalf of our community.”

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US solar tax credits survive but demand could yet take a hit

The solar investment tax credit (ITC) has survived a major round of tax reform in the US.

Fears over an effective shortening of the ITC and the wind power industry’s equivalent, the production tax credit (PTC), to just four years were allayed. A final bill was agreed on Friday with President Trump potentially signing it before Christmas.

“After weeks of negotiations, the final tax legislation…maintains the solar ITC for both commercial developers and for homeowners in its current form,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “This is a great victory for the solar industry and its 260,000 American workers and we commend our bipartisan solar champions in Congress for their diligent efforts to maintain solar’s critical role in America’s economy.

“As an industry, we are pleased that the final version of tax reform legislation protects the ITC, and we look forward to continuing to deliver on our promise of affordable, reliable American energy,” she added.

A research note from ROTH Capital also highlighted that an attempt to include a 100% clawback of ITCs value when companies with foreign subsidiaries calculate their tax bill was reduced to just 20% in what it considered to be a positive surprise.

Sting in the tail

It’s not all good news however with the broader objective’s of Trump’s tax reform likely to reduce the appetite for tax credits.

A company, or individual, that invests in solar deployment receives a percentage of that, currently 30%, to be claimed in tax credits. These can be used to offset a tax bill or, if a company had a surplus, sold at a discount to someone else looking to settle up with the IRS.

With US corporation tax being slashed from 35% to 21% as part of the reforms, the demand for tax credits is likely to drop.

READ MORE: Everything that’s wrong with tax equity in the US

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New York City to develop largest private multi-family rooftop PV array in US

StuyTown Property Services (SPS), the manager of Manhattan’s largest residential property, will install a 3.8MW PV energy system across the eight hectares of rooftop space at the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

The building complex on the east side of Manhattan in New York City is home to 27,000 residents and represents 1.7% of the population of Manhattan. The PV project will start development in the fall of 2017.

The rooftop project, which will be comprised of 9,671 solar panels, will be the largest private multi-family rooftop solar array in the US, tripling Manhattan’s current solar generating capacity.

Once complete in 2019, the rooftop project will generate 6% of the total energy consumed by StuyTown’s 110 residential addresses, or the equivalent of powering 1,035 New York apartments annually.

The PV project will be installed atop all 56 buildings in the development, with the solar arrays expected to have a 30-year lifespan.

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ABP invests over US$384 million in three utility-scale PV projects in US

Netherlands-based pension fund Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP has agreed to invest over US$384 million in three PV projects in the US, with the trio of installations representing a combined generation capacity of 858MW.

The three utility-scale projects, located in Nevada and California, are all owned by Capital Dynamics.

The first project, the 250MW Moapa Solar Park, is the first PV project fully developed on a Native American reservation. The installation was brought online by First Solar back in March 2017.

The project has a 25-year PPA with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), producing enough clean energy to power around 111,000 homes in LA.

The second project, the 328MW Mount Signal 3 PV project near Calexico, California, was acquired by Capital Dynamics from project developer 8minutenergy back in July 2017.

First Solar will provide 2.8 million Series 4 thin-film panels for the plant, while Southern California Edison (SCE) and 8minutenergy signed off on a long-term power purchase agreement in 2014 to deliver the project’s energy to residents in 15 surrounding counties. 8minutenergy will continue to oversee construction, with the project expected to come online by the end of 2018.

The final project, the 280MW California Flats solar project in Monterey County, was sold to Capital Dynamics from First Solar back in August 2017.

Corien Wortmann-Kool, chairman of ABP, added: “This investment is in line with our ambition to increase the number of investments in renewable energy, such as solar energy, by 2020.

“ABP wants to make its contribution to reaching the climate goals of Paris. All three solar parks have concluded long-term contracts with energy companies. This gives them a long-term and stable return for our participants. With this investment, ABP continues the rising line of investments in renewable energy.”

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Mosaic closes US$307 million residential solar loan securitization

Residential solar loan financing company Mosaic has completed its largest solar loan securitization issued to date — with US$307 million in bonds sold across four tranches.

The loan transaction was placed with 29 investors in the US and Europe. Since the company’s inception, Mosaic has funded more than US$1.3 billion in solar loans.

The offering is comprised of US$307.5 million of notes rated by Kroll Bond Rating Agency with four tranches that carry ratings from “A” to “BB+.” The notes are modeled to a weighted average life of 4.1 yards.  An additional US$75 million of loans may be purchased during the 3-month supplemental purchase period.

Billy Parish, co-founder and CEO of Mosaic, said: “We are thrilled with the tremendous interest in this deal and what it means for the solar industry. After the overwhelming success of our first securitization, we knew there was deep and broad demand from investors to fund residential solar loans.  We are excited that this transaction both extends our relationships with existing investors and brings in new U.S. and international buyers.”

Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, and Guggenheim Securities served as as joint-lead bookrunners for the offering, with DZ Financial Markets operating as co-manager. Deutsche Bank acted as sole structuring agent.  

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Hawaii’s PUC expands rooftop solar and energy storage offerings

The Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission has approved two new programmes expanding its customers’ abilities to install rooftop PV and energy storage systems, while also clarifying the terms of its existing programmes.

The new ‘Smart Export’ programme for customers exploring solar-plus-storage options allows customers to receive credits for power sent back to the grid during night time hours. It will apply to around 3,500-4,500 customers on specific islands. Credit rates are US$14.97 cents on O‘ahu, 11 cents on Hawai‘i Island, 14.41 cents on Maui, 16.64 cents on Moloka‘i, and 20.79 cents on Lāna‘i.

PUC is also replacing the Customer Grid Supply (CGS) programme with an updated CGS+, to allow customers to supply power just from PV systems to the grid, but with special equipment allowing the utility to reduce the system output in order to maintain grid stability. This will accommodate 5,000-6,000 customers. Credit rates under this programme are 10.08 cents on O‘ahu, 10.55 cents on Hawai‘i Island, 12.17 cents on Maui, 16.77 cents on Moloka‘i, and 20.80 cents on Lāna‘i. The Hawaiian Electric Companies also recently filed a roadmap to creating more resilient and renewable-ready island grids with the PUC.

Importantly those under the original CGS programme will continue to receive their rates for another five years.

Net metering customers will also now be able to add capacity to their systems provided they meet certain technical requirements.

PUC stated: “The decision clarifies that existing NEM customers can add ‘non-export’ systems and retain their status in the NEM programme.”

Finally, under Smart Export and CGS+, the PUC has also allowed new advanced inverter functions for solar-plus-storage systems that can help the grid during grid disturbances.

A more detailed breakdown on the programmes can be found here.

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Ohio utility launches RfP for 400MW of solar

AEP Ohio, part of major US utility American Electric Power, has issued a Request for Proposals (RfP) for 400MW of solar capacity in Ohio.

Preference will be given submissions that are located in Appalachian Ohio, will create permanent manufacturing jobs in the region and are committed to hiring Ohio military veterans.

Proposals are due 18 December 2017.

AEP Ohio committed to pursue the development of solar and wind generation resources in an agreement approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) in November 2016.

AEP Ohio already distributes power from a 10MW solar farm near Upper Sandusky and it has also committed to procuring 500MW of wind generation in the state. Overall it provides electricity to nearly 1.5 million customers. 

Back at the start of the year, Ohio governor John Kasich vetoed a bill that sought to make compliance for investor-owned utilities (IOUs) with the state’s energy standards voluntary, as opposed to mandatory, for a further two years.

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