14 December 2010

NRG to acquire First Solar’s 290MW Agua Caliente project

NRG Energy Inc of Princeton, NJ, USA, via its subsidiary NRG Solar, has agreed to acquire the 290MW Agua Caliente solar project from First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, which makes thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services.

The project is due to be completed by 2014 (when it is expected to be the world’s largest operational PV site) and has a 25-year power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Situated in Yuma County on 2400 acres of land between Yuma and Phoenix, AZ, Agua Caliente is expected to generate state and local tax revenues, provide wages for up to 400 construction jobs, and create economic benefits for many local businesses.

“Solar power is critical to transitioning our nation to having a greater emphasis on large-scale clean energy technologies and it is going to be projects of the scale of Agua Caliente that will help us achieve this ambitious goal,” says NRG Energy’s president & CEO David Crane. “This investment significantly increases our presence in the state and benefits the residents of Arizona while providing attractive returns to NRG’s stakeholders,” he adds.

NRG estimates that, at full capacity, the 290MW project will provide electricity for more than 225,000 homes, offsetting about 5.5 million metric tons of CO2 over 25 years (equivalent to taking more than 40,000 cars off the road annually). Agua Caliente will generate electricity with no air emissions, no waste production and no water consumption.

“Agua Caliente is representative of our mission to provide clean, affordable, sustainable solar energy, capitalizing on our advanced thin-film technology and the tremendous solar resource of Arizona,” says First Solar’s CEO Rob Gillette. “We are very pleased to further expand our relationship with NRG as the owner of Agua Caliente, the first of our multi-hundred-megawatt utility-scale projects to begin construction.”

An application has been submitted to the US Department of Energy for a federal loan guarantee in connection with the financing of the project, which is expected to be one of the first in the US to start construction under the program. Closing of the acquisition is contingent on receiving the federal loan guarantee. NRG plans to invest up to $800m of equity in the project through 2014 through a potential combination of cash on hand in addition to third-party investor equity.

The Agua Caliente project has secured all necessary permits for construction and the early construction phases have begun. First Solar has developed the project and is the engineering, procurement and construction contractor, using its advanced thin-film PV modules. First Solar will provide operations and maintenance services.

Agua Caliente is the latest in a series of renewable energy developments by NRG in Arizona this year. The firm is also developing a 25MW PV project for Tucson Electric Power to help meet the state’s energy demands with renewable energy. In September, NRG began an initiative with Kennedy Partners to develop solar arrays for Arizona schools to meet their own electricity needs while providing new teaching tools and shade for parking.

“Arizona is a key area of growth for NRG where our investment is creating local jobs and building infrastructure,” says Tom Doyle, president of NRG Solar and a Phoenix resident. “It is very gratifying to be able to see the benefits of our partnerships with local schools, providing cooling and heating for local businesses and universities and developing solar fields like Agua Caliente and our project for Tucson Electric Power.”

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.nrgenergy.com

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

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