8minute Solar Energy, the largest privately-held developer of solar PV and storage projects in the United States, has increased its development pipeline to over 18GW with the addition of 3GW of large-scale solar projects this month alone.
To facilitate the development and deployment of the company’s pipeline, 8minute Solar Energy also announced that it had attracted additional corporate-level funding from its joint venture partners, including J.P. Morgan Asset Management and Upper Bay Infrastructure Partners.
Importantly, within this announcement, 8minute Solar Energy committed to converting the majority of its solar pipeline to the company’s new generation solar power plant design with battery energy storage.
The news comes several months after Los Angeles Department of Water & Power voted unanimously to approve the Power Purchase Agreement which would pave the way for the development of the 400MW/1.2GWh Eland Solar and Storage Center – the largest solar and battery energy storage system in the world.
“The climate crisis has never been more dire, but the solutions have never been clearer or cheaper — and Los Angeles is investing in renewable energy and cleaning our air as part of my DWP reform agenda,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti back in September of 2019.
“The Eland Solar and Storage Center will help us keep the lights on without the help of dirty fossil fuels — even when the sun isn’t shining — and power our progress toward a low-carbon, green-energy future.”
The Eland Solar & Storage Center is a significant stepping stone moving forward for the solar industry, demonstrating that renewables can replace dispatchable fossil fuel generation – generating electricity at under $US0.04/kWh ($A0.062/kWh) for a fixed 25 years.
No specifics were given on the new 3GW of solar and storage added to the company’s pipeline, but the company’s position remains strong despite the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“While the financial markets, especially tax equity, face uncertainty right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 8minute as a company is financially very well positioned,” said Dr. Tom Buttgenbach, President and CEO of 8minute.
“Given our strong cash position and balance sheet, as well as the strength of our financial partners, we’re fortunate to take the long-view and continue our growth trajectory to deliver clean, reliable power—day and night—for less than the cost of fossil fuels.
“Over the last few months, we have added to the bench strength of our team, focused on developers, engineers and technology innovators, so we can continuously improve our cost competitiveness and bring successful solar projects to communities in California, Texas and across the Southwest.”
The development of 8minute Solar Energy’s “bench strength” was boosted last month with the addition of a new Chief Financial Officer and new Chief Operating Officer.
The company’s strong position was further bolstered this month as it raised new development capital from its joint venture partners, including J.P. Morgan Asset Management and Upper Bay Infrastructure Partners. Similarly, the University of California (UC) Office of the Chief Investment Officer of the Regents has joined the clean energy partnership as a significant investor. The additional investment will be used to accelerate the execution of 8minute’s 18GW pipeline in California and the Southwestern United States.
“We have been impressed not only by the breadth and depth of 8minute’s solar portfolio, but also by its engineering and technology-focused vision for the future of the clean energy industry,” said UC Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher. “We look forward to supporting the next round of groundbreaking, large-scale projects 8minute is developing in California and beyond.”
“As we develop more projects with large storage capacity, we will continue to partner with local communities, evaluate the environmental implications of our work and prioritize responsible business practices across all areas of our pipeline,” added Buttgenbach.
“This strategic investment with our joint venture partners is an important part of this vision that extends beyond the funding—it’s an opportunity to align with world-class research labs and technology centers at the forefront of energy innovation. We look forward to strengthening this partnership as we advance on our mission to make solar energy abundant and affordable throughout the country.”
As the transition to a global renewable energy power system continues, more and more projects are looking to battery energy storage to ensure their projects remain both cost-competitive and relevant – being able to provide power day or night at prices contesting or below that of fossil fuel power.
In the month before the Eland Solar & Storage Center was approved, Florida Power & Light announced plans to build the 409MW/900MWh Manatee Energy Storage Center, built alongside an existing solar project in Florida’s Manatee County. A month before that, the government of Australia’s Northern Territory awarded Major Project Status to a proposed 10GW solar farm with a 20-30GWh storage facility to be developed near Tennant Creek.
Meanwhile, just last month the New South Wales Coalition Government reaffirmed its commitment to ramp up the development of wind, solar, and storage capacity across the state to 17.7GW – which will start off with a 3GW pilot Renewable Energy Zone in the state’s central-west region, around the township of Dubbo.
Still in Australia, GE Renewable Energy announced last September that it would provide the “one of the largest” grid-connected batteries in the world – a 100MW/300MWh battery – to be installed alongside the 200MW Solar River Project in South Australia.
The fight for the “world’s biggest” battery and solar + storage project will continue, as utilities and developers around the world are time and again shown the cost-competitiveness of the technology.