Sunrise brief: First Solar joins global workers’ rights coalition


First Solar said it joined the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), an industry coalition aimed at supporting the rights and well-being of workers and communities in the global supply chain.

U.S.-based First Solar said that its membership aligns it with RBA’s vision of creating a coalition of companies driving sustainable value for workers, the environment, and business.

First Solar said it pledged to support the group’s mission to collaborate with other members, its suppliers, and stakeholders to improve working and environmental conditions and business performance through standards and practices. The company’s membership gives it access to the RBA’s due diligence tools and programs. First Solar said it would leverage RBA’s Validated Assessment Program (VAP) for onsite compliance verification and audits.

Mike Koralewski, chief manufacturing operations officer, said in a statement that “As the solar industry struggles to address issues like forced labor in the absence of credible audit programs, the VAP illustrates the fact that there is no need to reinvent the wheel in the search for a robust and reputable assessment framework.”

Utah solar capacity for Facebook

Power plant developer rPlus Energies broke ground on Graphite Solar I, a 104 MW solar project owned by Greenbacker Renewable Energy in Carbon County, Utah, in the east-central part of the state.

Graphite Solar will be one of the largest solar plants in Greenbacker’s portfolio of renewable energy projects and will deliver power to a new Facebook data center in Eagle Mountain, Utah, near Salt Lake City.

The project has a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) in place with utility PacifiCorp on behalf of Facebook. The contract was developed under a green energy tariff, which allows large customers like Facebook to buy renewable energy generated on their behalf.

Sundt Construction will serve as the engineering, procurement and construction lead for the project. Greenbacker bought the pre-operational solar project from rPlus Energies in December and hired rPlus to continue to develop the project through construction.

Talesun bi-facial cells for 100 MW project

Competitive Power Ventures said that Maple Hill Solar, a planned 100 MW solar facility in north-central Pennsylvania, has begun construction with the support of Gemma Power Systems. The solar farm is located on the site of a former coal mine and is expected to enter service in May 2022. Maple Hill Solar will consist of 530+ Watt bi-facial solar panels from Talesun. The project will use single-axis tracking to maximize energy production.

Yabin Xing, president of Talesun North America, said the project will strengthen the company’s expansion in U.S. markets.

Deutsche Bank backs 250 MW project

CIM Group said that its 250 MW Aquamarine solar project in California closed on debt and tax equity financing with Deutsche Bank acting as lead arranger of the debt financing. A spokesperson for CIM Group declined to reveal the dollar amount of the financing.

The solar project is slated to enter service this fall and is contracted to provide 50 MW of capacity to Valley Clean Energy Alliance. Valley Clean is a locally governed electricity provider for the California cities of Davis, Woodland, Winters and unincorporated portions of Yolo County.

Aquamarine also signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the City of Santa Clara to sell renewable energy credits associated with 75 MW of capacity.

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