ACCIONA buys solar + storage on a national scale


In a deal spanning 20 projects, seven states, two power markets and more solar than the entire state of Florida has installed to date, ACCIONA has agreed to a deal with Tenaska to acquire 3 GW of utility-scale solar and 1 GW of co-located solar and energy storage.

This represents one of the largest deals known to pv magazine. What’s more is that the projects aren’t all that far from going on-line, CEO of ACCIONA’s Energy Division in North America, Rafael Esteban boldly shared: “We will bring a significant portion of the portfolio into service between 2021 and 2023.”

Specially, ACCIONA envisions commissioning eight projects by the end of 2023, adding around 1.5 GW of peak capacity to its North American renewable energy portfolio.

And, if we want to play the exponential capacity game, it seems as if this deal will set the record. Prior to this acquisition, ACCIONA’s entire American solar portfolio was comprised of just the 64 MW Nevada Solar One concentrated solar plant, just outside of Las Vegas. On the global scale, however, the company owns over 10 GW of renewable generation assets.

And while 3 GW of solar is massive, 1 GW of battery storage is, quite literally, unlike anything we have ever seen in the United States. To date, the country has only 899 MW of operating batter storage. And while that figure is anticipated to reach 1 GW by year’s end, even then this is 1/67th of the total installed solar capacity and an even smaller percent of installed renewable energy capacity.

In July, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released a report predicting that the volume of battery storage will more than double to 2,500 MW by 2023. Considering both the above goal of having the majority of this project pipeline in operation by 2023 and the size of the pipeline, this deal alone could help the United States achieve or, moreover, surpass that figure.


Non-traditional markets

However, potentially the most impressive part about the deal is that none of the projects are locate in what would be considered strong, traditional, solar markets. The states included are Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.

In case anyone was wondering, this 3 GW purchase represents more solar capacity than all of those states currently have on-line combined, and it’s not particularly close, either. Remember that whole bit about the future of solar being driven by the midwest? Seems like it’s already starting to come true.

It will be interesting to see in which states the majority of these projects are located in, once more details become available. Will capacity be evenly distributed or will this agreement launch one state into American solar royalty?

What is for sure is that one of the above states will be launched into battery storage royalty. California is currently the only state in the U.S. with a battery storage capacity greater than 150 MW.

The top-10 states in terms of current installed battery storage capacity

Image: EIA

Yet who do we see on that list? Pennsylvania and Ohio. It will be interesting to see just how much capacity is brought to these states, and what kind  of impact that development has on their national storage status.

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