Author: PV-Tech

Clearway closes debt financing for 192MW California solar facility

Clearway Energy Group has closed debt financing for the 192MW Rosamond Central solar project in Kern County, California.

On Wednesday, the renewables developer said that construction of the plant by McCarthy Building Companies will be finished by the end of the year.

Rosamond Central is contracted to a number of municipalities and community choice aggregators (CCA), through deals including 15-year agreements with East Bay Community Energy (for 112MW of power) and the Clean Power Alliance (40MW).

 “Who says big renewables can’t get financed by CCAs???” Nick Chaset, CEO of East Bay Community Energy, tweeted on Wednesday. “Congrats to Clearway Energy team and East Bay Community Energy teams for getting this done.”

Clearway claims to already operate 947MW of renewable energy assets in Kern County, racking up approximately US$20 million on local property taxes annually.

German bank NordLB acted as the coordinating lead arranger for the debt financing, while Utah’s Zions Bank and California’s CIT were joint lead arrangers.

CIT recently arranged US$200 million in financing for Clearway for a 76MW portfolio of community solar assets spread across Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York.

The developer is also active in Hawaii. In September, the company commissioned three grid-scale solar power projects on the island of O’ahu.

The North Rosamond solar project, sold by Clearway to Duke Energy Renewables last year, came online in June.

The prospects and challenges of solar’s new era in the US will take centre stage at Large Scale Solar USA 2020 (Austin, Texas, on 23-24 June 2020).

Read the entire story

Analysts: US energy storage gains ‘nationwide foothold’ amid hopes for rapid growth

The latest quarterly US Energy Storage Monitor, produced by the national Energy Storage Association and analysis firm Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, has predicted annual deployments will reach 7.3GW by 2025.

A more than 14-fold increase is forecast, from 523MW recorded in 2019, with the “sharp scale-ups” both regionally and nationally to be driven primarily by a combination of “utility procurements and the accelerating residential market,” the report claims.

Over the next two years alone, the first really big utility procurements of energy storage are set to come online, causing an expected trebling of the market volume this year and then more than doubling again in 2021.

“The U.S. energy storage market has shown rapid growth over the past decade, moving from pilot to commercial scale, but perhaps most remarkable is the geographic breadth and diversity of its success,” the report said, adding that energy storage is proving a range of services nationwide that shows it has “found a foothold”. 

See here to read this story in full, as originally published on PV Tech’s sister title Energy-Storage.News

The prospects and challenges of solar’s new era in the US will take centre stage at Large Scale Solar USA 2020 (Austin, Texas, on 23-24 June 2020).

Read the entire story

Greenbacker quits distributed solar in strategic ‘narrowing down’ shift

Greenbacker Renewable Energy Co has left the US residential solar market with the sale of its last two residential portfolios to Spruce Finance.

The portfolios in question comprise 27.6MW of rooftop assets, bought in a series of transactions between 2016 and 2017 for a cumulative US$34.5 million.

“By narrowing down our investment focus to C&I and utility-scale, we can provide strong returns for our investors through sustainable and impactful investing,” Charles Wheeler, Greenbacker chief executive officer, said in a press release about the sale on Friday.

The New York-based renewables company announced its exit from residential solar a couple days later, shortly after it revealed the purchase of a 7MW solar portfolio from HESP Solar.

San Francisco-based Spruce Finance, which specialises in small-scale solar, said that the acquisition from Greenbacker will push its portfolio beyond the 200MW mark.

Vice president of corporate development Tim Distler said on Friday that Spruce Finance sees “significant opportunity to consolidate an increasingly mature market through capital deployment.”

The offloaded portfolios, which include 3,668 sites, were sold “at a considerable premium” according to Greenbacker.

They are Spruce Finance’s second largest acquisition to date.

The prospects and challenges of solar’s new era in the US will take centre stage at Large Scale Solar USA 2020 (Austin, Texas, on 23-24 June 2020).

Read the entire story

Vivint posts year-on-year boost of installs, revenues as net losses persist

Vivint Solar scored in 2019 rises of solar system installs and revenues, with analysts predicting the coronavirus crisis is not likely to major dent uptake of PV systems.

Financial results out on Tuesday show the residential solar specialist achieved installs of 233.1MW throughout 2019, with quarterly volumes steadily rising between Q1 2019 (45.6MW), Q2 2019 (56MW), Q3 2019 (65.1MW) and Q4 2019 (66.4MW).

Vivint’s PV installs of 233.1MW in 2019 – up 19% on 2018’s 196MW – came as its full-year revenues grew 17% to US$341 million, with quarterly jumps in Q1 2019 (US$69.4 million), Q2 2019 (US$90.8 million) and Q3 2019 (US$103.8 million) followed by a sharp dip in Q4 2019 (US$77.1 million).

At US$423.3 million, Vivint’s net losses continued to pile in 2019, swelling from the US$279 million figure the firm had reported for 2018. 

At a conference call with analysts, Vivint was quizzed over why quarterly product revenues flatlined or tanked even as sales rose. CFO Dana Russell said it was a “timing issue”, adding that delays with revenue collection means benefits from late-2019 installs will not be seen until Q1 2020.

‘Contingency plans’ as COVID-19 linked to other firms’ lower sales

Vivint’s full-year update was positively seen by analysts at ROTH Capital. Describing the firm’s stock as “compelling” from a relative valuation standpoint, the firm said: ”We believe management is executing well, and that – along with discipline and focus – is the key.”

Vivint’s Q4 2019 installs of 66MW exceeded ROTH Capital’s own forecasts of 65MW. The analysts revised upwards their expectations for Vivint’s performance in 2020, predicting the firm will roll out 275MW in FY 2020, starting with 59MW in Q1 2020.

ROTH Capital said Vivint is a  “well-positioned” industry leader despite the challenges it faces, including its exposure to the credit risks of the customers it enlists via PPAs and leases, as well as its reliance on investment tax credits – currently being phased down – and net metering support.

The COVID-19 crisis currently disrupting global supply chains will, ROTH Capital said, likely result in a “weaker than expected” 2020 for US residential specialists. However, any virus-driven delays to the “steady and growing adoption of solar” will likely only be temporary, the firm added.

During the conference call, analysts mentioned reports that some US installers are seeing lower sales volumes as the virus spreads. Vivint CEO David Bywater said demand for the firm’s installs is “holding up nicely” and added that contingency plans are in place to minimise potential impacts.

The prospects and challenges of solar’s new era in the US will take centre stage at Large Scale Solar USA 2020 (Austin, Texas, on 23-24 June 2020).

Read the entire story

Pattern Energy shareholders approve takeover by Canadian pension group

Pattern Energy Group will be purchased by Canada’s Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) after shareholders approved the deal on Tuesday.

The US$6.1 billion deal was given the thumbs up despite loud opposition last month from minority shareholder Water Island Capital.

Alan Batkin, chairman of the Pattern Energy board of directors, thanked stockholders on Tuesday for “recognising the significant, immediate and certain value of our transaction with CPP Investments.”

The board had pressed shareholders to vote in favour of the “full and fair value” deal the day prior.

Water Island Capital, which owns 4.10% of Pattern Energy stock, urged fellow shareholders to reject the deal in February, writing in an open letter that the CCPIB’s offer price was too low.

The day before the shareholder meeting, a statement published on the Pattern Energy website dismissed the fund manager’s claim, countering that “to get above the US$26.75 transaction price, Pattern Energy would have to grow at a rate well in excess of the current management plan. This would require raising additional equity and possibly other actions, including potentially cutting the dividend, which we expect would negatively impact the company’s stock price.”

Pattern Energy – which claims to own more than 4.4GW of wind and solar assets in the US, Canada and Japan – was founded in 2009 and has been publicly listed since 2013. The takeover, expected to close “shortly” according to Batkin, will render the company private once again.

CPPIB, which administers around CA$409.5 billion (US$309 billion) on behalf of 20 million Canadians, intends to merge Pattern Energy post-takeover with its privately-held sister company, wind and solar developer Pattern Development.

Evercore and Goldman Sachs & Co LLC served as independent financial advisors to the special committee of the board. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP acted as independent legal counsel.

The prospects and challenges of solar’s new era in the US will take centre stage at Large Scale Solar USA 2020 (Austin, Texas, on 23-24 June 2020).

Read the entire story

FERC: US to see nearly 50GW of green energy additions in three years

Renewables will soon cover one-quarter of total electricity capacity in the US as an influx of nearly 50GW comes online within three years, according to recent analysis of government data by Sun Day Campaign.

The Virginia-based campaigner group pointed at figures published by federal energy watchdog FERC last Thursday, showing that the lion’s share of net capacity additions in the US by the end of 2022 will be wind (26.4GW), solar (19.973GW) and natural gas (21.09GW)

The statistics show that net installed capacity for coal, nuclear and oil will shrivel over the next three years, with respective drops of 18,857MW, 3,391MW and 3,085MW forecast. As of 31 December 2019, only one new oil generator was being developed in the US and there were no coal plants under construction.

On the other hand, 690 utility-scale (rated 1MW or greater) of solar projects totalling 19,973MW were under construction at the close of 2019. No solar facilities are expected to retire in the next three years.

Ken Bossong, executive director of Sun Day Campaign, said the statistics – which show that clean energy additions will reach 48,254MW in three years – offer “a glimmer of hope” in the fight to prevent climate change.

“Renewables’ continued expansion in the near future – as forecast by FERC – suggests that with supportive governmental policies, these technologies could provide an even greater share of total US electrical generation,” he said in a press release on Friday.

Renewables poised for growth after topping coal in 2019 rankings

According to the FERC update, renewables (including hydropower) accounted for more than 22% of the nation’s total available generating capacity in 2019, eclipsing coal at 20.98%. Solar accounted for 3.49%, whereas wind and solar combined accounted for 12%.

Within three years, renewables’ share of installed generating capacity will progress to more than a quarter of the US’ available capacity. Coal will drop to 18.63%, and nuclear and oil will drop to 8.29% and 2.95% respectively.

In a 25-strong list of “electrical generation highlights” picked by the federal energy regulatory report, more than half were solar. The catalogue included Enel Green Power’s 252MW Roadrunner project in Texas, the 102.5MW SR Arlington II plant being built by Silicon Ranch – and set to power a Facebook data centre in Georgia – and RWE’s 100MW West of Pecos solar project in Texas.

In its analysis, the Sun Day Campaign highlights the importance of not equating capacity with generation, given that “capacity factors for nuclear and oil tend to be higher than those for renewables”. Energy Information Administration statistics show that while renewables had a 22.1% installed generating capacity share in 2019, they accounted for only 18.2% of electrical generation.

The Sun Day Campaign is a non-profit research and educational organisation founded in 1992 to support “the aggressive development of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies” according to its website.

Download the FERC’S ‘Energy Infrastructure Update for December 2019’ here.

The prospects and challenges of solar’s new era in the US will take centre stage at Large Scale Solar USA 2020 (Austin, Texas, on 23-24 June 2020).

Read the entire story

Canada’s Grasshopper Solar bags 278MW PV porfolio in Pennsylvania

Canada’s Grasshopper Solar has bought a 278MW, 12-project solar portfolio in Pennsylvania from clean energy developer Glidepath Ventures for more than US$300 million.

Ontario-based Grasshopper will be the long-term owner-operator of the distributed generation projects. It will manage power marketing, project financing – including equity, debt and tax equity – and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC).

Glidepath, headquartered in the Philadelphia suburbs, will handle the development, interconnection and permitting of the projects.

The projects will be commissioned between 2020 and 2022 and will double the number of solar assets in Pennsylvania once live, Grasshopper and Glidepath said in a joint press release.

Statistics from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) suggest that the state is currently home to roughly 475.15MW of PV.

Redwood Energy worked as the transaction’s financial adviser, while Orrick served as legal adviser to Grasshopper, and Greene Hurlocker as legal adviser to Glidepath.

Grasshopper chief solar development officer Jonathan Persaud said that his company was “excited” to be entering the PJM market, which “has stable characteristics for ongoing solar development.”

The market lies at the heart of a row between federal energy watchdog FERC and states and clean energy advocates. Last December, the former issued an order requiring that PJM expand the scope of its minimum offer price rule in a way that will blunt the impact of state-subsidised resources, like renewables, on the market.

PJM is the nation’s largest electric grid operator, covering 13 states and the District of Columbia.

The prospects and challenges of solar’s new era in the US will take centre stage at Large Scale Solar USA 2020 (Austin, Texas, on 23-24 June 2020).

Read the entire story

Florida approves ‘largest’ community solar project in US

Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is set to develop the “largest” community solar project in the US after receiving the go-ahead from state regulators on Tuesday.

FPL’s project will comprise 20 solar plants with a cumulative capacity of 1.49GW. Construction costs are pegged at US$1.752 billion, or US$1,176 per kW.

In a statement, FPL CEO Eric Silagy touted the FPL Solar Together project as the “largest shared solar programme in the country,” with its approval marking “significant forward progress for the solar landscape of not only Florida but the entire United States.”

The development has been backed by solar advocacy groups Vote Solar and the Southern Alliance for Green Energy,  as well as by local cities, counties, and prospective corporate customers, 7-Eleven and Walmart.

Should FPL’s 1.49GW project be fully deployed as planned, it will represent a sizeable chunk of the 3.5GW of community solar expected over the next five years by US solar body the SEIA.

FPL expects the community project to generate about US$112 million in savings for customers throughout its lifetime, and US$249 million in net cost savings for participants and customers.

The 20 plants will be split into five clusters with individual project capacity sitting at 74.5MW, according to a post-hearing brief filed by FPL to Florida’s Public Service Commission (FPSC) on 30 January. The plants are expected to be commissioned by mid-2021.

By 2023, roughly 30% of total non-residential PV capacity in the US will come from community solar, according to the SEIA.

Project deemed in public interest by public service commission

Despite opposition to the project from the state’s Office of Public Counsel, the FPSC “approved the Settlement Agreement because this unique solar program is in the public interest of the State of Florida, and offers FPL customers the opportunity to advance renewable energy in Florida,” according to FPSC Chairman Gary Clark.

Participating customers will subscribe to a portion of new solar power capacity and will receive, in return, credits expected to reduce their monthly bills over time.

Initially, 75% of capacity, or 1,117.5MW, will be allocated to commercial, industrial and state customers. The remaining 25% will be earmarked for residential and small business customers, of which 10% will be preserved for low-income customers. 

“For years, access to solar energy for many Floridians was not economical or easily accessible,” FPL’s Silagy said. “Now, FPL SolarTogether will provide more of our customers access to the environmental and financial benefits of solar generation regardless of where they live or how much money they make while helping increase fuel diversity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and launch Florida into a leadership position for solar energy.”

Competitive tenders for panels, power conversion units, step-up transformers, substation and interconnection facilities and EPC contractors were held by FPL in 2018 and 2019, according to documents submitted by FPL to the FPSC.

Enrolment for the programme will open on 17 March 2020.

The prospects and challenges of solar’s new era in the US will take centre stage at Large Scale Solar USA 2020 (Austin, Texas, on 23-24 June 2020).

Read the entire story

Sunrun cements residential PV dominance with 413MW full-year installs

Sunrun’s ascendancy in the US residential solar segment looks set to go nowhere after annual results revealed installations broke the 400MW mark last year.

The update released on Thursday shows PV installs reached 413MW throughout 2019, a 11% jump on the 373MW posted for 2018. By comparison, Tesla – once the top US residential installer but overtaken by Sunrun two years ago – deployed a more modest 173MW throughout 2019.

The full-year results confirmed Sunrun’s success in pushing up solar installs every quarter this year. From an initial 86MW of additions in Q1 2019, the firm went on to post 103MW in Q2 2019 and 107MW in Q3 2019. In Q4 2019, roll out reached 117MW, the group said this week.

Growth extended to Sunrun’s customer base, which numbered 285,000 people by the end of 2019 where it counted 180,000 in 2017 and 233,000 in 2018. The 50,000-plus new customers in 2019 alone equalled the additions by the next two largest residential firms combined, Sunrun said.

Sunrun’s new guidance this week shows the firm expects the momentum to further strengthen in 2020. As CEO Lynn Jurich noted in a call with analysts, the residential specialist foresees solar deployment to grow by 15% this year, coupled with a 20% boost to its customer base.

Like fellow residential players Sunnova and Tesla, Sunrun appears to put increasing stock in the prospects of its solar-plus-storage offering. Jurich explained roll-out of its Brightbox systems has passed the 9,000 mark nation-wide. This year, she added, deployments could “nearly double”.

In line with earlier Sunrun statements, the firm linked the rising uptake of its Brightbox home solar batteries to citizens’ wariness of blackouts. Where 20% of PV installs featured the storage add-on nation-wide in Q4 2019, the rate reached 50% in California’s outage-stricken Bay Area.

Staff shortages ease as cost of revenues rises

For Sunrun, the posting of bullish installation forecasts came as its stock traded at around US$20 per share on New York’s Nasdaq exchange, down from a US$23.4 peak on 20 February.

After losses in Q1 2019 and Q2 2019, Sunrun went on to become money-making again in Q3 2019 and Q4 2019. It finished 2019 with a full-year positive net income of US$26.3 million, a drop from the figures for both 2017 (US$125 million) and 2018 (US$26.6 million).

The firm boosted full-year revenues between 2018 (US$759 million) and 2019 (US$858 million) but saw, in turn, total costs of revenues rise 18% to US$182 million and total operating expenses grow by an identical 18% to reach US$292 million.

During the earnings call, CEO Jurich laid out the steps Sunrun will follow in a bid to shave costs. The firm will work to shorten timeframes between customer signature and actual system installs, she said, adding that scheduling, inspections and other processes Sunrun controls will be “optimised”.

In earlier updates, Sunrun had singled out staff shortages as a key growth barrier, amid claims it had 600-plus openings to fill across sales and installation teams. Last November, the firm had claimed these “labor challenges” were likely to go away by Q1 2020, in part aided by its benefits package.

Based on this week’s update, the workforce strains appear to have eased somewhat. During the call on Thursday, CEO Jurich explained Sunrun’s vacancies have dropped to 400-plus all in all, split between over 300 sales openings and 100 installation openings.

Pressed on this front later by analysts, Jurich stressed that Sunrun is “vigilantly watching” given the tight labour market but added: “It is nothing we don’t have the recruiters or pipeline to staff, it is not really a feature in terms of restraining anything or a worry for us for hitting the growth target.”

See here to browse Sunrun’s Q4 2019 and FY 2019 results in full.

The prospects and challenges of solar’s new era in the US will take centre stage at Large Scale Solar USA 2020 (Austin, Texas, on 23-24 June 2020).

Read the entire story

Renewable, unstoppable: What we learned at #SPIcon 2019

Ok, my colleagues and family are bored of hearing how great Solar Power International / Energy Storage International was in Utah last week and indeed, of how welcoming Salt Lake City was to the 12,000+ renewable energy industry professionals and interested parties that attended. Below are the leading themes from the show in order of narrative, if not in order of importance: 

1. The capacity factory – how and why tomorrow’s solar-plus-storage can be an equal on the grid to today’s fossil fuels 

2. LFP vs NMC – reaction to safety fears provokes new turn in the discussion 

3. Energy storage-as-infrastructure – creating an asset class for the ‘workhorse’ of the grid 

4. #StorageITC – a market accelerator, not a market saviour 

5. Is software actually the single most important ‘component’?

6. Renewable, unstoppable: Why solar’s journey to the core of the US energy system matters

7. Bifacial – The strengths and shortcomings of the emerging technology after its import tariff exemption

You can read the takeaways for each theme here, as originally published on Energy-Storage.news

Read the entire story

Copyright Solar Media Limited. All rights reserved.