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Goldman Sachs buys California solar-plus-storage plant from Canadian Solar

Recurrent Energy’s Rosamond 1 and Rosamond 2 large-scale solar farms in Kern County, California, in operation since 2013. Image: Recurrent Energy.

Canadian Solar said that construction has begun on a large-scale solar PV project combined with a four-hour duration battery storage system in California which the company has just sold to Goldman Sachs Renewable Power.

Slate, a solar-plus-storage plant pairing 300MWac of solar photovoltaics (PV) with 140.25MW / 561MWh of battery energy storage, is under development in California’s Kings County through Canadian Solar’s US subsidiary Recurrent Energy. The project is expected to be up and running towards the end of this year and around 405 workers will be employed during the peak construction phase.

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In October 2018, reported as the project was first announced that two California Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs), Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SCVE) and Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP) had signed 15-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Recurrent Energy for the plant’s output.

At that time, the Slate project was announced to be a 150MW solar farm with 45MW / 150MWh battery storage. Today, Canadian Solar said that five different off-takers in total have signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) for Slate, including one solar-only PPA and four solar-plus-storage PPAs. Tax equity was provided to the project by PNC Bank.

Another Canadian Solar subsidiary, System Solutions and Energy Storage (SSES), will act as energy storage system provider and integrator. Slate will generate power from nearly a million (962,000) of Canadian Solar’s BiKu brand bifacial PV modules on around 2,400 acres of land.

The closing of the sale by Recurrent Energy to Goldman Sachs follows on from a deal between the two parties for the Mustang Solar project, also in Kings County close to where Slate is being built. Mustang’s 100MW / 124MWp solar array is already completed and operational and was developed by Recurrent Energy before being sold to the asset manager’s renewable power group. Canadian Solar is now working to install a 75MW / 300MWh battery storage system at the Mustang site, the company said in October last year.

“We are very excited to partner with Canadian Solar once again on a landmark project that will provide a significant new source of clean, renewable energy to California and a battery storage system that will help facilitate California's transition to a carbon free power grid,” Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s Renewable Power Group head Jon Yoder said.

Canadian Solar leadership said last August that the company believes there were “significant growth opportunities in the solar-plus-storage market,” in reporting its Q2 2020 financial results. Company COO president and chief operating officer Yan Zhuang said at the time that the company was building up its “technological capabilities in the solar-plus-storage space,” and that this would be one of Canadian Solar’s main strategies to drive long-term growth. Back then, the company said it had an energy storage pipeline and backlog of 4,683MWh; 3,482MWh in the pipeline and 1,201MWh backlog. Yesterday CEO Dr Shawn Qu said that the pipeline, through Recurrent Energy, now stands at more than 4GWh 

“The Slate project is Recurrent Energy's largest solar-plus-storage project and represents continued investment in a community where we have done business for nearly a decade. Given the huge market opportunity presented by battery storage, both standalone as well as paired with solar, we have focused significant resources in developing our own technological, servicing and financing solutions over the past few years,” Canadian Solar CEO Dr Shawn Qu said yesterday.

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