NextEra Energy Partners to acquire a 24% stake in 550 MW Desert Sunlight solar project

Late yesterday NextEra Energy Partners announced that it had signed a contract to acquire a 24% stake in the investment company which owns the Desert Sunlight Solar Energy Center, a 550 MW solar project in the desert of Southern California.

Desert Sunlight was built by First Solar and comprises nearly 9 million of the company’s cadmium telluride thin film PV modules, making it one of the largest single-site PV projects on Earth. The final phase of the plant was completed in January 2015.

NextEra Energy Partners is the yieldco of energy giant NextEra Energy, a fortune 200 company which also owns utility Florida Power and Light. Through subsidiary NextEra Resources, the sponsor of energy partners, NextEra has been involved in solar for decades. This including owning shares in the first large concentrating solar power (CSP) projects built in the California desert in the 1990s. Additionally, NextEra Energy Resources already owns a 50% stake in Desert Sunlight.

However, despite NextEra’s involvement in solar, yieldco Energy Partners’ renewable energy portfolio has been mostly wind, and when it reported Q2 results in July had only 131 MW of solar PV assets. The 24% share in 550 MW of solar PV will double that capacity to 263 MW.

This acquisition is in line with the plans that NextEra unveiled at that time to increase its wind and solar holdings, with a goal to acquire 269-1,169 MW of solar PV in the 2017-2018 timeframe. The company has said that the extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) brings certainty that makes this “the right time” to acquire more solar assets.