Acciona enters US PV market in giant Tenaska deal; New York to build 316 MW battery

Our pick of the latest solar news you need to know.

Spain's Acciona buys 3 GW of US PV projects, 1 GW of energy storage

Spanish group Acciona has acquired 3 GW of U.S. PV projects and 1 GW of energy storage capacity currently being developed by Tenaska, Acciona announced October 21.

The transaction covers 20 projects in the States of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, located within the PJM Interconnection and Southwest Power Pool (SPP) markets.

Acciona will work with Tenaska to complete the projects and plans to bring online eight of the plants, representing 1.5 GW of peak power capacity, by 2023, the company said. The Spanish company already has 1.2 GW of wind power capacity installed or under construction in North America and operates a 64 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant near Las Vegas.

                    US PV installation forecast

                                  (Click image to enlarge)

Source: Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewables, September 2019

The 1 GW energy storage development portfolio will allow Acciona to offer "cutting-edge technologies and services" to the PJM and SPP markets, it said.

Rapid falls in solar and battery costs and rising renewable energy capacity have led to a surge in U.S. PV plus storage projects. PV plus storage projects are spreading from Southwest markets into eastern and northern states and starting to compete with gas-fired generation.

Globally, Acciona owns and operates around 10 GW of renewable energy capacity in 16 countries.

PV is playing a growing role in Acciona's renewables business and represented 11% of the group's renewable energy capacity at the end of June, it said.

Based in Omaha, Nebraska, Tenaska has developed 10.5 GW of U.S. renewable energy and gas-fired power plant projects.

New York approves 316 MW, eight-hour battery storage facility

The New York State Public Service Commission has approved the construction of a 316 MW battery storage facility with eight hours of storage capacity in Queens, New York.

Located at the Ravenswood Generating Station on Long Island City, the battery will be the largest ever built in New York State.

Project owner Ravenswood Development will use the facility to store electricity drawn from the grid and generated by other facilities, the commission said in a statement October 17. The power will be dispatched across peak demand periods to displace fossil fuel plants, it said.

The facility will be able to provide peak shifting and ancillary services and will store electricity drawn from the grid and generated by other facilities.

The new facility will form part of New York's Green New Deal plan to achieve zero carbon emissions in the electricity sector by 2040.

Under the plan, New York has invested $2.9 billion in 46 large-scale wind and solar projects and plans to build an additional 6 GW of distributed solar by 2025, 3 GW of energy storage by 2030 and 9 GW of offshore wind by 2035.

First Solar books 5.4 GW of orders in Jan-Sep, holds sales target

U.S. thin-film module manufacturer First Solar has booked 1.1 GW of orders since August 1, raising its year-to-date orders to 5.4 GW, the company said in its latest quarterly results October 24. First Solar has also identified 8.1 GW of "mid-to-late stage" opportunities of which around three quarters are in North America and most of the remainder in Europe, it said.

First Solar recorded net sales in Q3 2019 at $546.8 million, down by 7% on the previous quarter as lower systems revenues from U.S. project sales outweighed higher module sales volumes.

The Arizona-based group maintained its full-year net sales target at $3.5 billion-$3.7 billion and lifted its 2019 operating income target from $290 million-$340 million to $320 million-$370 million.

Last month, First Solar announced it would close its engineering procurement construction (EPC) business and concentrate on its core businesses of module manufacturing and solar plant development.

"This [EPC] transition, which mirrors the technology shift to the large-format Series 6 module, marks the natural evolution of our long-term growth strategy," Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar, said in a statement.

Earlier this month, First Solar started production at its second US Series 6 module manufacturing facility in Lake Township, Ohio, raising its total U.S. annual Series 6 production capacity to 1.9 GW. The Series 6 modules provide efficiency gains on previous models and can be manufactured within 3.5 hours using fully-integrated factory lines. First Solar recently started up a separate Series 6 facility in Perrysburg, Ohio, three months ahead of schedule.

Combined with facilities in Vietnam and Malaysia, First Solar has a global manufacturing capacity of 6.7 GW.

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