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Largest US Renewable Energy Producer NextEra Energy goes on a Solar Farm Buying/Building Spree

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NextEra Energy Resources which was previously known as FPL Energy has bought a number of Solar Energy Generating Assets in the past few months.NextEra is the largest Renewable Energy utility in the USA with around 18 GW of Capacity out of which around 6.5 GW is Gas and 7.5 GW of Wind Powered Capacity plus 2.5 GW of  Nuclear Energy.NextEra Energy with its long experience in Green Energy Generation has now decided to expand its Solar Asset Portfolio buying equity stakes in Solar Thermal as well as Solar PV Farms in USA and Canada.NextEra Energy is already the biggest Wind Energy Producer in the United States and on the way to become the biggest Solar Energy Producer as well.While Wind Energy is facing uncertain times in the USA,Solar Energy is growing at a rapid clip driven by the sharp fall in Solar Panel Costs which have more than halved in the last 2 years.

Solar Thermal Expansion

NextEra is expanding rapidly in Solar Thermal Energy in California with regulators recently approved two Solar Thermal Plants of 250 MW Capacity each being developed by NextEra.The 250 MW Beacon Solar Energy Project was the first large Solar Thermal Farm to  receive permission from California Energy Commission.Next was the 250 MW  Genesis solar thermal power project in Riverside County.NextEra could start construction in the fourth quarter of 2010 with commercial service by the second quarter of 2013.Genesis will have two 125-MW solar units that produce electricity using steam turbine generators fed from solar steam generators. The solar steam generators would receive heated transfer fluid from solar thermal equipment from arrays of parabolic mirrors that collect energy from the sun.Note NextEra is also a stakeholder in the SEGS Solar Array which was built in the 1980s.

Solar PV Projects Acquisition

While NextEra is a major developer of Solar PV Projects,it has recently bought out large solar farms being constructed by major utility solar PV Developers Sunpower and First Solar .It bought the entire equity in Sunpower’s proposed 250 MW Valley Solar Ranch Project which is expected to start construction in 2011.It has also bought solar farms in Ontario,Canada from thin film leader First Solar.No price was given for the purchase, which totals 40 megawatts of energy.First Solar will develop the Sombra and Moore solar Projects using its thin-film solar modules.Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2011 with commercial operation expected by year-end.

Note other US Utilities like Exelon and NRG Energy have been snapping up Wind Power Assets taking advantage of the sharp downturn in the valuation of Wind Energy Farms in 2010.Its a matter of time before other USA Utilties follow NextEra Energy into Solar Energy Generation as RPS standards start being implement by more and more US states.


Abhishek Shah

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