Baoding, China–based Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. — one of the world’s largest vertically integrated photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers — November 27 announced that its US subsidiary had inked its largest solar PV supply contract to date.
Yingli Green Energy Americas was selected to supply 200 megawatts DC (MW-dc) for LS Power’s giant, 170 MW-ac Centinela Solar Energy Facility Project, which is located some 90 miles east of San Diego in California’s Imperial Valley.
Slated for construction in two phases, with completion expected in mid-2014, the Centinela solar power plant is to be built on a 1,600-acre site near El Centro. The plans of LS Power’s special purpose LLC, Centinela Solar Energy, are to build out in two stages: 125 MW in Phase 1 and another 45 MW in Phase 2.
LS Power on September 17 awarded Fluor Corp. a lump-sum engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract for the Centinela Solar Energy Facility. Fluor has received full notice to proceed with Phase 1, and anticipates starting on Phase 2 in 2013’s first quarter.
Utility-Scale Project Development Fueling US Solar PV Capacity Growth
“The expansion of the utility-scale market in the U.S. is instrumental in securing our country’s clean energy future,” Yingli Americas’ managing director Robert Petrina stated according to a press release. “We are proud to be chosen for this milestone project that demanded the highest levels of product and performance guarantees. We are now working with several of the top utility companies in the nation, and are cementing our reputation as the ideal module supplier for large-scale projects.
“Yingli Americas has methodically established itself as the partner of choice for utility-scale projects across the U.S. By establishing a superior process to address both the commercial and technical hurdles such projects present, we are extremely confident in our ability to execute such mega projects,” added director of business development Mathew Sachs.
Earlier in September, LS Power announced that the Centinela project had been fully funded. Long-term project finance is provided by a syndicate led by Prudential Capital Group, with shorter term financing provided by a group led by Sovereign Bank and four other Joint Lead Arrangers: Union Bank, Rabobank Nederland, CIBC, and NordLB.
A 20-year power purchase agreement has been signed with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). The Centinela Solar Energy Facility will be one of the first major power plants to interconnect to SDG&E’s Powerlink Transmission Line, a high-voltage 500-kilovolt power line. SDG&E on June 18 announced that it had completed the nearly $1.9 billion project after a five-year environmental planning and permitting process and 18 months of construction.
Renewable Energy Boom County
Lying almost entirely below sea level, California’s arid Imperial Valley has become a hotspot for both geothermal and solar energy development. Spanish sustainable energy technology and project developer Abengoa on June 12 announced it had been awarded a $360 million EPC contract to build another of the world’s largest PV facilities: a 200MW PV plant in the Imperial Valley.
All the renewable energy project development activity hasn’t come without detractors and critics who are concerned about the displacement of traditional agricultural businesses and land, as well as the environmental impacts of the large-scale solar and geothermal energy development. LS Power’s Centinela project, for instance, was originally planned as a 275MW project. That’s apparently been scaled down to 170 MW.
As of December 2011, there were five Imperial Valley public land-solar power project applications on file with US Bureau of Land Management (BLM). They include AES’ 400MW PV Imperial Valley Solar, SunPeak Solar’s 500MW PV Superstition Solar 1, Pacific Solar Investments’ 450MW Ogilby Solar parabolic trough project, Solar Reserve’s 250MW Imperial Solar power tower, and San Diego Gas & Electric’s 20MW PV Ocotillo Sol.
The county is also the second largest geothermal energy producer in the US, generating more than 500 MW of clean, sustainable electricity from the geothermal resources surrounding the Salton Sea, which according to the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corp. hold more than 2,000 MW of potential power generation capacity.