What will the future look like? Flying cars? Biologic AI? A good X-Men movie? While nearly the entirety of the future is nothing more than speculation, there’s one thing we know for sure: there is going to be a ton of massive solar projects in Texas.
In that sense, the future is now, as the massive 420 MWac Permian Energy Center, owned by Ørsted and located in Andrews County, Texas has begun construction. And, if 420 MW just aren’t enough for you anymore, the project will also include a 40 MWac battery storage component.
This is where some clarification is needed, as Ørsted touts the project as 460 MWac. In reality, it’s a 420 MWac solar project coupled with a 40 MWac battery attachment. So it’s really not a 460 MW project, but if you’re 5’10” standing and 6′ wearing boots, how tall are you going to tell people you are?
Thanks to the State of Texas Comptroller, we have some insight into how the project will be laid out, though keep in mind that the final product will take more space than is presented on this site map, as since the map’s publication the project was expanded by 70 MWac.
But what’s going on all of those vast acres of beautiful Texas soil? Initially, plans called for the installation of 1.2 million Longi 400-watt panels, however the suppliers have since been changed to Jinko Solar and JA Solar, so exact wattage and the total number of panels anticipated are not clear. Those panels will be held on tracking units, though, again, project documents do not outline the preferred brand or style of trackers.
Another thing that has gone so far unrevealed is who is buying the project’s generation. A power purchase agreement has already been signed for 250 MW of Permian, though the buyer’s identity is still a thing of mystery. The Exxon Mobil Corporation is listed as being involved with the project in some capacity. That could mean as a buyer, but we’re not here to speculate.
The project came under the ownership of Ørsted after the company purchased Coronal Energy’s solar development business in the spring. This is Ørsted’s first foray into mega-sized solar, however the company has a strong renewable background, with its international wind generation capacity portfolio anticipated to hit nearly 7.5 GW by 2020. Ørsted’s first soiree into the standalone energy storage world came in January, with the completion of the 20 MW Carnegie Road lithium battery project, designed to support a 90 MW offshore wind portfolio.
It’s a big day in Texas. They all are, but this is bigger than most. The sun of the future is rising over the Republic, and that sun is being used for power.