8minute Solar Energy changes name, expands its vision


8Minute Solar Energy was launched back in 2009 when Tom Buttgenbach had the vision to fight climate change by developing renewable energy at scale. The company was named 8Minute because it takes eight minutes for the sun’s light to reach the earth.

Today the company is expanding that vision to include what it calls an “advanced ecosystem” of clean energy products and services. With the expanded vision comes the new name—Avantus and the plan to bring to life one of the largest clean energy development pipelines in the country, while deploying the company’s proprietary power plant technologies and digitally connected delivery systems at the gigawatt scale.

“We built 8minute Solar Energy to deliver on goals central to the fight against climate change – making renewable energy lower cost and more reliable than fossil fuels. Now, with more than a decade of experience behind us, we have accomplished that and more: we’ve proven we are a category-defining company on track to become one of the first pure play clean energy majors…,” said Dr. Tom Buttgenbach, CEO and founder of Avantus.

“As Avantus, we have the scale, track record and expertise to transform our country’s energy generation to be as networked and responsive as the digital tools driving the rest of the world. We will do this by continuing to develop our industry-leading pipeline, while also creating advanced technologies that will take clean energy to the next level – smarter, cheaper, faster, and more reliable than ever before,” said Buttgenbach.

Avantus will focus on “smart power plants,” using its proprietary technologies and design optimization tools that offer grid stabilization (like frequency regulation and ancillary services), and the ability to bring a plant online instantaneously, reacting to outages in milliseconds. The company said its smart power plants also guarantee 99% availability, versus 80% to 85% for gas-fired power plants, further solidifying next generation clean energy technology as the backbone of a modern electric grid.

The Avantus Baseload class of power plants offer high-capacity factors, upwards of 60% in the summer, to deliver a consistent, baseload power supply at record-low prices, matching customers’ needs in the most economical way. The company’s Super Peaker replaces low-efficiency gas peakers with highly flexible clean energy during periods of peak demand at a significantly lower cost. For the emerging green hydrogen market, the Avantus Hydrogen class offers an integrated plant design to optimize green hydrogen production capable of meeting multiple end uses, from long-duration electricity storage to transportation.

“Energy systems must evolve to match the complex, data-driven world we live in,” said Kip Larson, chief technology officer of Avantus. “That’s why Avantus has created a new ecosystem of renewable energy generation and storage that outperform conventional and simple designs. We deploy digital tools like large scale simulations and predictive analytics to create highly specific and optimized system architecture, power plant designs, and machine learning-powered operational systems to address our customers’ increasingly complex energy needs.”

In the past 10 years, the company has executed over two dozen energy offtake agreements, including multiple projects with the largest utilities in California and Nevada. Its portfolio features several historic milestones, including the largest solar cluster in the United States, the first operating solar plant to beat fossil fuel prices, and a groundbreaking project to deliver solar with storage at record-low prices.

Now, as Avantus, the company’s development pipeline exceeds 50 GW, effectively doubled over the last two years. With 42 GW of solar and 78 GWh of energy storage, the pipeline spans more than 90 utility-scale projects throughout California, Texas and the Southwestern United States, and represents over $70 billion in investments.

“As Avantus, we plan to continue breaking records on both cost and reliability,” said Stephanie Perry, chief operating officer of Avantus. “Our expanding development pipeline of over 70 utility-scale projects will provide low-cost, zero-emission energy to more than 20 million Americans. Avantus will build on our legacy of success and play a pivotal role in helping the United States meet its clean energy goals.”

In January, 8minute Solar Energy announced it closed $400 million in financing from EIG, an institutional investor in the global energy and infrastructure sectors. 

“Avantus is a clear industry leader with a proven track record of developing groundbreaking solar plants with integrated storage that have spurred the industry’s rapid growth,” said R. Blair Thomas, chairman and CEO of EIG. “This expanded pipeline is a testament to the company’s ability to turn big ideas into pivotal moments and impactful solutions for the clean energy industry and aligned with our commitment to laying the groundwork for a low carbon future. We’re proud to support Avantus as the company enters this next phase of growth and are committed to helping the company execute on its key initiatives.”

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