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The Renewables Roundup returns for 2023 with a look at the biggest news stories from America's wind, solar and hydrogen industries, brought to you by Eddy Maunder, Principal Consultant at Coalesce Management Consulting.

Read on or watch the video below for Eddy's round-up of the biggest news stories you need to know going into the new year, including: 

  • The winners of the first Pacific Coast offshore wind lease sale
  • The impact of new duties on Chinese solar imports
  • Avangrid's challenges on the Commonwealth Wind project
  • Greenalia's 502MW acquisition in Texas
  • Meta's 200MW Arkansas solar park

And more...

The winners of the California Lease Auction

This month's top story focuses on the California Lease Auction, the winners of the first US offshore wind lease sale on the Pacific coast and the first-ever to procure floating wind capacity in the country are: RWE, Equinor, Invenergy, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Ocean Winds.

The total bid values came to just over $757million, upon completion this will power over 1.5 million homes, developing over 370,000 acres of sea and producing over 4.5 GWs of clean energy.  Congratulations to all the winners and we look forward to seeing their projects develop over the coming years.

Tariffs on China

The United States will impose new duties on imports from some major Chinese solar panel makers after a months-long investigation found they were trying to dodge tariffs by finishing their products in Southeast Asian countries according to trade officials.

The preliminary decision was bad news for U.S. solar project developers that rely on cheap imports to fuel their growth, but fell short of the industry's worst fears that Washington would impose new tariffs to cover all solar shipments from the region, instead of just those from specific companies.

The industry has faced project delays for the last two years due to pandemic-related supply disruptions, land disputes, and a ban on goods made in China's Xinjiang region over forced labour concerns. Some 1,000 shipments of solar products have been seized at the U.S. border due to suspicion they could have come from slave labour camps, Reuters previously reported.

The mere threat of new tariffs on solar imports also contributed to a slowdown in project development this year, the industry has said.

In response to those delays, Biden earlier this year said any new tariffs would be waived for two years to allow U.S. solar panel manufacturing time to ramp up.

Avangrid's Commonwealth Challenges

Avangrid has requested to back out of offshore wind contracts for their 1.2GW Commonwealth Wind project off Martha’s Vineyard.  Avangrid have been trying to renegotiate the original terms after they became untenable because of unforeseen supply chain costs and disruptions, in part caused by the war in Ukraine, as well as rapidly rising interest rates. 

Avangrid said it intends to enter the state’s next round of bidding for wind-farm contracts in the spring, to keep Commonwealth Wind alive. But there’s no guarantee Avangrid will win amid competition with up to three rival developers, each with its own offshore lease areas.

Avangrid senior vice president Kim Harriman maintains Commonwealth Wind can still be finished in 2028 if it wins new contracts in the next round. She accused the utilities of refusing to engage with Avangrid to address its cost issues.

“We’re committed to finding the right solution to bringing Commonwealth Wind forward,” Harriman said. “We’re not starting fresh. If anything, we’re further ahead than probably anybody else that’s going to bid.”

Innovative Solar Systems For Sale

North Carolina-based Innovative Solar Systems is up for sale at a firm price of $150 million USD. Innovative Solar Systems is a national utility-scale solar project developer with an active project portfolio of 10 GWs. 

Innovative Solar Systems boasts that the buyer of the company has an opportunity to net $1.7 billion to $4.8 billion in gross profits within 3 years, by funding the buildout of the company’s 2.5 GW of “ready to build” solar projects in Texas. These projects, under the jurisdiction of the Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), will have interconnection agreements in place and ready for construction within 12 to 18 months after the closing of the company’s acquisition.

According to a recently completed third-party valuation report on Innovative Solar Systems, the current valuation on the company is approximately $220 million to $328 million. The company is able to share this report with potential buyers.

Greenalia Acquires 502MW Texas Solar Projects

Spanish independent power producer Greenalia has acquired three utility-scale solar projects totalling 502 MW in Texas.

The projects are the 265 MW Donegal Solar, the 119 MW Leitrim Solar, and the 118 MW Roscommon Solar. All three are in the advanced stage of development, with Greenalia planning to reach commercial operations by early 2025.

The acquisition is part of the company’s broadening strategy in the United States, which it entered two years ago.

Greenalias CEO Manuel Garcia said “We are delighted to acquire these high-quality solar projects. This acquisition is an important step in consolidating our strategic plan, which has the United States as a key focus”

Meta's 200MW solar park

Meta formerly known as Facebook, will procure electricity from a 200-MW solar park that will be built by DE Shaw Renewable Investments or DESRI in Arkansas.

The US solar and wind assets developer and owner said on Wednesday it will supply the plant’s future output under a long-term power purchase agreement. The contract is tied to DESRI’s Long Lake Project.

The solar farm will be installed in Arkansas’ Phillips County and will help power Meta’s operations in the region. It will join a list of other DESRI-owned clean energy projects contracted by Meta, including 180 MW in Utah and 160 MW in Virginia, bringing their overall capacity to over 850 MW.

$390 million wind farm approved in North Dakota

The North Dakota Public Service Commission on Wednesday voted to approve a $390 million wind farm proposed near Wishek in south-central North Dakota. 

Orsted Onshore North America plans to complete the Badger Wind project by October 2023. It's to consist of 74 turbines for a capacity of 250 megawatts -- enough energy to power 70,000 homes. 

The project in Logan and McIntosh counties is to include the wind turbines, access roads, electrical and communication infrastructure, a transmission line, up to three permanent atmosphere evaluation towers, an aircraft detection lighting system, and an operations and maintenance facility.

Solar PV hits new high

Solar PV generation in the US during the first nine months 2022 jumped 26.1% year-on-year according to the country’s Energy Information Administrations' latest report.

Data from its “Electric Power Monthly” shows solar PV increased its electricity generation in September by 21.02% compared to the same time last year, while other renewables were down in September 2022. Almost 655MW of utility-scale solar PV capacity was added in September 2022.

Despite a strong growth from renewable generation capacity during the first three quarters, Energy Information Administrations data suggests a possible slowdown for Q4.

The Energy Information Administration forecasts that renewables will provide 22% of US electrical generation 2022, up 20% from the previous year.

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