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Eni New Energy buys 400MWh Texas battery storage project from Baywa r.e.

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Eni New Energy US has bought a large-scale battery storage project in development in Texas from developer Baywa r.e., along with a utility-scale solar PV plant nearby.

The 200MW/400MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) project is at a late stage of development and scheduled to go into operation before the end of next year.

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Called Guajillo, the BESS plant will share interconnection to the ERCOT grid with the solar farm, Corazon I, a 266MWdc/200MWac facility which already went into operation in August 2021. 

Baywa r.e. had acquired Corazon I at an early stage of its development back in 2019 and signed a credit agreement for up to US$216.1 million with a consortium of lenders including the North American Development Bank (NADB) to finance its design, construction and commissioning. 

Electricity and renewable energy credits from the solar plant are being sold to retail energy provider Direct Energy through a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) and it also trades in the ERCOT wholesale market.

Guajillo BESS will be charged with energy from the grid at times of high renewable generation and output back to it when demand peaks and renewable production is low. 

Italian energy major Eni has spun out its natural gas and renewable energy arm, Eni gas e luce, and rebranded it Plenitude, with Plenitude’s US division operating Eni New Energy US.

The battery project acquisition marks a big step up for Eni New Energy US. The only operational battery project in its portfolio so far is a 6.6MWh system in Massachusetts. That project was acquired from another Italian company, Falck Renewables, with which Eni New Energy US formed a joint renewable energy and storage development platform in late 2019. 

The platform is called Novis Renewables, and is targeting the development of at least 1GW of onshore wind, solar PV and energy storage by the end of 2023. In creating Novis, Falck handed over a 49% share of 112.5MW of already operational facilities in its portfolio, in North Carolina and Massachusetts. 

Novis led the two transactions with Baywa r.e. 

“These transactions mark a huge step forward in the growth of our renewable capacity in the US market, adding two high value assets to our portfolio,” Plenitude’s CEO Stefano Goberti said.

“The combination of solar plants and utility-scale battery storage is an accelerating new trend that will generate value and support the further penetration of renewable energy into the market.”

Goberti added that Novis is on track to achieve that 1GW goal and highlighted Plenitude’s long-term goals to reach more than 6GW of installed renewable capacity by 2025 and more than 15GW by 2030 worldwide. 

Baywa r.e. will manage operations of Guajillo and Corazon I through its operations services arm. CEO of its US development group Baywa r.e. Solar Projects Fred Robinson said the deal with Eni allowed Baywa r.e. “to reinvest capital in the company’s development pipeline across the country, including projects in ERCOT”.

The rapidly growing US renewables market will “continue to thrive as we see the increasing implementation of utility-scale solar together with storage,” Robinson said. 

Part of the German industrial conglomerate Baywa Group, Baywa r.e. is planning to develop more than 1GW of solar and wind plants worldwide in 2022, with a heightened focus on subsidy-free projects. It has a potential pipeline of 5GW of solar, wind and storage in the Americas, our sister site PV Tech reported this week. 

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