California community group signs PPA for EDF’s 300MW Desert Quartzite solar-plus-storage project

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EDF Renewables’ Catalina solar PV project in California’s Kern County. Image: EDF Renewables.

Clean Power Alliance, a community energy provider in California, has signed a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with EDF Renewables for a large-scale solar-plus-storage project’s output. 

The renewables arm of French utility multinational EDF is building the Desert Quartzite Solar-plus-Storage power plant in California’s Riverside County, in an area designated a Solar Energy Zone (SEZ) by the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM). 

Desert Quartzite will combine 300MW of horizontal single-axis tracking solar PV with a 600MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) and is expected to be commissioned in February 2024. The BESS allows electricity generated during solar peak production during the daytime to be dispatched later when it’s most needed. 

It’s the latest large-scale solar-plus-storage project announcement in California, which is the US’ leading state for battery storage deployment already. This is due not only to the state’s world-first carbon neutrality policy objectives — California is targeting a zero emissions electricity system by 2045, replacing fossil fuels with clean energy facilities — but also due to its urgent need for electricity capacity to help it meet demand at peak times. This is especially true during summers which are increasingly marked with heatwaves and annual wildfire seasons. 

It’s also the latest big dispatchable solar contract for a community choice aggregator (CCA), groups that allow electricity customers in the US to collectively buy their power from the resources of their choosing, while benefiting from the CCA being able to utilise the existing power delivery infrastructure of investor-owned utilities.  

Clean Power Alliance is among California’s biggest CCAs, with around three million customers in Los Angeles and Ventura County. It has also been prolific in signing PPAs for solar-plus-storage. Some recent deals include a 15-year PPA with developer 8minute Solar Energy signed in September 2020 for the output of Rexford 1 Solar & Storage Centre, in Tulare County. Rexford 1 is being built on low-productivity farmland, has 400MWdc (300MWac) of solar PV with 180MW / 540MWh of battery storage and will go operational in 2023.   

In November it also signed a 15-year PPA with developer sPower for the Estrella solar-plus-storage project in the Antelope Valley area of Los Angeles, setting the 56MW solar PV + 28MW / 112MWh BESS project to begin construction ahead of a December 2022 scheduled operational date. 

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