Wow! Ted Turner’s newest renewable investment firm; Southern Turner Renewable Energy has wasted no time in signing its first solar plant, a 30 MW thin film PV project they just contracted from First Solar, within months after opening their doors for business.
Construction will start this month.
The brand new company began business last month to develop and invest in large-scale solar photovoltaic projects throughout the US Southwest. It is a very smart alliance between CNN media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner, who owns more land than any other individual in the US, and is an avid environmentalist – and Southern Company, an energy generation giant attempting to develop a greener sensibility.
Southern had looked into CCS for its next coal plant, ultimately decided against it (greenhouse gases are only one issue with coal plants, after all, mining is still toxic) and is taking its first step into renewable energy, in converting a 96 MW coal plant in Georgia to biomass from agricultural waste.
Now the giant is moving on from biomass boilers, to trying to develop completely fuel-free renewable energy like solar – and in allying with someone who holds the solution to solar’s one problem: lots and lots of NIMBY-free land – the company is showing that this just might be a serious alliance.
For Turner, too, the alliance makes sense. As one of the wealthiest environmentalists in the US, he was previously able to invest in renewable energy, but lacked the experience to make it work. “Southern Company’s experience in power project development, construction and operations, and customer relations help make this a strong alliance, and I look forward to working together,” says Turner.
Surprisingly, given all that private land supply, – and given the difficulties that land ownership could surmount for solar project development – the particular land in Northern New Mexico that this first project will be sited on is actually not quite on Turners land, but is right next to it.
First Solar, which just completed construction of a similar sized thin film solar project for PG&E in California, will handle the engineering, procurement and construction.
Already the power is spoken for. The project; Cimarron I has a power purchase contract for a 25 year supply of solar power with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, which supplies 44 electricity cooperatives in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.
Ted Turner and First Solar are no strangers. In 2007, Ted Turner sold a previous renewable business investment, Turner Renewable Energy, LLC to First Solar.
Turners holdings amount to two million acres. The new company will explore developing both his own land as well as other sites. Great start.
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Susan Kraemer writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate and GreenProphet and has been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design she brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention: solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times. Follow Susan @dotcommodity on twitter.