Massive Silicon Valley Solar Farm is in Need of Investors
After five years of environmental planning and debate, a huge solar farm south of Silicon Valley has cleared one of its final hurdles. However, the 247 MW solar farm, which is 50 miles south of Hollister, California in Panoche Valley, still needs final environmental permits and equally important, new investors to foot the development bill.
Southern California Edison has agreed to buy power from the farm over a 20 year period. These kinds of power purchasing agreements, or PPAs, are vital to the success of solar farms for several reasons, the most important of which is a guaranteed revenue stream for investors.
“It's a major milestone in the development of Panoche Valley Solar," John Pimentel, president of PV2 Energy, a San Francisco firm developing the project, said. "It allows us to now move forward with our plan to begin construction early next year.”
Environmental groups have fought tirelessly to stop construction of the project, claiming it would harm the rural character of the region and endanger several species.
"We were hoping that no major utility would pick up a project that is so controversial and so unfortunately placed in an environment that is one of the last resorts for endangered species who rely on that habitat," Shani Kleinhaus, environmental advocate for the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, said.
The project originally began as a $1.8 billion one, though now it’s valued at $600 million. It lost Duke Energy as a major investor, though the North Carolina energy company is still involved with the project in a lesser capacity.
"Their corporate strategy evolves and changes all the time," Pimentel said. "The California market has changed a lot in the last couple of years. Prices have become extremely competitive, and Duke has had other corporate strategic issues that have demanded greater focus."
Pimentel claims that talks are underway with major power players to help fund the project with a target groundbreaking of summer 2015. Investors are still very much needed, however.
Also, the project still needs to clear several environmental permits, though it’s expected to clear without incident.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.