The energy transition is well underway, with solar marching in front. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) shared that solar, wind, and battery energy storage technologies are now 82% of new capacity additions actively planned to come online.
Utility-scale solar is still quite young, as substantial capacity additions did not come online until 2010. Now, as of January 2023, 73.5 GW of utility-scale solar is online, about 6% of U.S. generating capacity. Just over half of planned U.S. generation to be added to the grid is solar. If all planned projects come online as expected this year, 2023 will mark the most capacity added to the grid for solar yet.
By 2030, the Department of Energy expects 350 GW to 750 GW of solar and wind capacity to be added. This progress is impossible without the hard work of those that develop, construct, and maintain projects like the ones listed below.
Texas 240 MW for Facebook
Avangrid announced the signing of a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Meta (Facebook) for a 240 MW solar facility in Falls County, Texas. This project was Avangrid’s first to be located in the booming market of Texas, though it currently operates more than 1.2 GW of onshore wind in the state.
The project is expected to reach commercial operations in early 2025, delivering over $40 million in property taxes over its first 25 years. Construction of the project is expected to create over 200 local jobs.
With more than 8.6 GW of installed renewable capacity, including 1.1 GW of solar projects operating and under construction, Avangrid is the third largest renewable energy operator in the U.S. It has a pipeline of over 25 GW of solar, wind, and battery energy storage under development.
California 117 MW plus batteries
EDF Renewables North America announced a 20-year PPA with the Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) for energy and renewable attributes tied to the 117 MWac Sapphire Solar project. The project includes a 59 MWac, 4-hour battery energy storage system.
Sapphire Solar will deliver power to SCPPA’s participating members of Anaheim, Pasadena, and Vernon by the end of 2026. Construction is expected to bring 250 temporary construction jobs and generate over $253 million in new tax revenues over the operational life of the project.
The project is expected to generate 375,800 MWh of clean energy per year, enough to meet the consumption of over 58,000 average California homes. This is equal to mitigating over 266,000 metric tons of carbon emissions annually, representing annual emissions from over 57,000 cars.
EDF Renewables has over 35 years of experience and 16 GW of solar, wind, and storage projects developed.
Arkansas 20 MW microgrid for rice mill
CS Energy and KORE Power have teamed up to deliver a 20 MW solar, 20 MW/ 41 MWh battery energy storage system for Producers Rice Mill, which operates four rice mills, 12 storage facilities, and 2,000 farmer members across 350,000 acres of rice.
The microgrid is the largest commercial and industrial project in Arkansas, and among the largest microgrids in the United States. The solar and energy storage system will allow the mill to continue operations uninterrupted during periods of electrical curtailment by the local utility. About 67% of the mill’s electricity needs will be met by the solar microgrid.
Rapid response from KORE Power’s microgrid controller system is designed to mitigate power quality issues and intermittent stoppages at the plant. The installation will make use of KORE’s Mark 1 lithium-ion batteries and U.S.-manufactured EPC inverters.
“Designing and constructing a solar + energy storage system that ensures more reliable power helped us solve our customer’s challenges and ensures Producers can cleanly and reliably process their members’ harvest,” said Jesse Lieberman, director of operations at CS Energy. “That’s good news for the farmers here in the United States, and it’s good news for consumers across the world.”
Tennessee 3 MW REAP loan
Silicon Ranch Corporation, a leading renewable energy provider, activated a new 3.25 MW solar facility in Hardeman County, Tennessee, providing power for Bolivar Energy Authority (BEA). The facility will provide enough electricity to power more than 500 homes and is expected to help keep rates lower for BEA’s 11,000 customers.
The project was approved by utility Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). TVA is enabling us and LPCs across the Valley to do just that through its generation flexibility program, by providing our community with the opportunity to partner with dependable, renewable energy providers like Silicon Ranch to procure local energy solutions,” said Tony Kirk, president, BEA.
The Bolivar Solar Farm was supported by the USDA through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) initiative, which provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to support agricultural producers and rural small businesses with renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. Available to agricultural producers with at least 50% of their gross income coming from agricultural operations, and small businesses in eligible rural areas with populations less than 50,000, the program funds various renewable energy technologies, including solar.
The REAP program offers loan guarantees on loans up to 75 % of total eligible project costs, grants for up to 40% of total eligible project costs, and combined grant and loan guarantee funding up to 75% of total eligible project costs. REAP loans approved in Fiscal Year 2023 will receive an 80% loan guarantee. Grants are capped at $1 million for renewable energy and $500,000 for energy efficiency.
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