Enel Green Power North America (EGPNA) has announced the start of construction on their 150 Megawatt solar PV plant, Aurora, in Minnesota. It will be the company’s largest distributed solar plant in North America.
Enel Green Power is an Italian, multinational renewable energy corporation. It’s a division of Enel – a conventional electric utility based in Rome.
“…Aurora highlights how innovation and design are driving the future of renewables, while providing communities with access to energy that delivers both the biggest possible environmental benefits and the most economic value.” – Rafael Gonzalez, Head of EGPNA.
This 150 Megawatt plant will actually be a combination of 16 individual solar PV plants. It is expected that total installation will be completed by the end of 2016.
A total investment of $290 million will be needed to completed this project. State Street Bank and Trust Co contributed $140 million of the total sum. Electricity from the Aurora plant will be purchased by Northern States Power via a power purchase agreement.
The plant’s design, which consists of 16 separate sites, is advantageous in that it will reduce line loss and transmission costs. Tracking devices will also be utilized to maximize energy production. The extra costs of solar tracking devices typically do not make economic sense on smaller, residential installs but are easily worth it on large scale utility installations.
There are quite a few large scale solar installations either underway or are in the planning stages in the United States. The particular reason that this one was highlighted is to show that solar works just fine in the northern latitudes. Many still think that solar power is only effective in the sunnier south west.
In fact, the extreme heat of some parts of the south west can actually hamper the efficiency of solar panels. Solar PV requires sunlight, not heat, which may reduce the effectiveness of electronics in general.
We can all look forward to many more utility scale solar projects being installed all across the country. After all, cold and mostly sunny locales are just as viable.