Scatec Solar North America is a small, emerging solar project developer with a strong name and strong founder. Scatec Solar AS in Norway, the parent firm, is founded by Dr. Alf Bjørseth, best known as the founder of Renewable Energy Corporation (REC).

Scatec Norway is a solar developer that also provides EPC services and has installed 110 megawatts of solar projects globally. The firm expects to develop another 100 megawatts in 2011.
 
I spoke with Eric Perreca, President and CFO, about Scatec's activities in the U.S. 

The firm is going after the utility market and has three good-sized projects totaling 156 megawatts (DC).  The three projects are already permitted along with near-completed interconnection agreements. Negotiations are underway with utilities, although no Power Purchase Agreements have yet been signed.

The three projects include:

  • 6 megawatts DC in Hawaii: This project on the island of Oahu is located on the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station at Kalaeloa. Because it's on federal land, permitting is less an issue than permission.  Since the project exceeds Hawaii's feed-in tariff, it requires a special exemption from the utility.   
  • The 50-megawatt DC Westside Solar Ranch in Stanislaus County, California: According to the application filed with Stanislaus County, the PV development would be on 384± acres of a 1,131± acre site with construction in two phases.  Each phase will be 25 megawatts, consisting of 80 blocks of trackers, with 93,000 PV panels on steel posts and aligned in rows utilizing single-axis trackers. Each block of trackers is made up of 20 rows of single axis trackers.  
  • The 100-megawatt DC Redhills Renewable Energy Park in Iron County, Utah also consists of two phases on single-axis trackers.  The $500 million solar power plant will be on 625 acres in Parowan Valley. Rocky Mountain Power has said that its substation has an ample capacity and open bays to accommodate the first phase of the project. While a buyer for the energy has not been disclosed with negotiations ongoing, it is likely to be purchased by California. 

Perreca understands that even after the time-consuming work of permitting and EIRs and endless county and city planning meetings, you have to finance the project and sell the power to a utility.  Because the projects are "complicated enough," when it comes to vendor selection, Scatec generally utilizes the lowest risk vendors possible which means bankable suppliers with proven performance, established balance sheets and warranties.  Nevertheless, Perreca says that they are always looking at new technologies, including "blending withstoragetechnology."
 
According to Perreca, "If everything goes as planned, we start construction at the end of the year," and expect "to be on-line in the beginning of 2013."
 

The Utility PV Market in the U.S.

The utility PV market in the U.S. is emerging as a central focus for global players. The current market, valued at $1 billion per year, is scaling rapidly as utilities respond to looming renewable portfolio standards and feed-in tariff markets such as Spain and Germany cut back incentives. These conditions point to a greater focus on the U.S. utility market as a global industry driver over the next five years, with market potential approaching an estimated $8 billion per year by 2015.

It's easy to see from the chart below that First Solar and SunPower dominate the utility PV market in the U.S. today; one of the two companies has been involved in every one of the 11 largest operating projects in the country.  Greentech Media Research takes a deep look at the U.S. utility-scale solar marketplace in this report and both of these articles.

We took a detailed look at the Blue Wing solar project here and the proposed 50-megawatt Turning Point Solar project here.

Here's a table of operational PV power plants in the U.S.

Project

Developer / EPC

State

Size (DC)

PV Tech

Owner

Copper Mountain Sempra/FSLR NV 55 MWdc CdTe Sempra
Desoto FP&L/SPWR FL 28 MWdc c-Si FPL
Blythe FSLR CA 25 MWdc CdTe NRG
Blue Wing juwi TX 16 MWdc CdTe Duke
Jacksonville juwi FL 15 MWdc CdTe PSEG
Nellis FRV/SPWR NV 14 MWdc c-Si FRV
Wyandot juwi OH 12 MWdc CdTe PSEG
El Dorado Sempra/FSLR NV 12 MWdc CdTe Sempra
Space Coast FP&L/SPWR FL 12 MWdc c-Si FPL
West Pullman SPWR IL 10 MWdc c-Si Exelon

(Megawatt values are in DC and we assume an 87% DC-to-AC derate factor for projects that are quoted in AC. Data from Greentech Media.)