The Springbok 2 Solar Farm, which promises electricity at rates lower than fossil fuels can deliver in California, was commissioned this week. In fact, the 155-megawatt solar farm, under a 30-year power purchase agreement with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), at roughly $35 to $38 per megawatt hour is offering some of the lowest prices seen for solar power generation in the US.
“At 8minutenergy, our goal is to deliver abundant, affordable renewable energy through impeccable execution of utility-scale solar PV and energy storage,” said Martin Hermann, 8minutenergy’s CEO and founder. “We are proud that Springbok 2 will deliver clean, renewable energy to tens of thousands of Californians.”
Springbok 2 was developed on 700 acres of fallow farmland that last produced over two decades ago. The project, developed by 8minutenergy and owned by D. E. Shaw Renewables and its partners, joins the 105 MW Springbok 1 Solar Farm. Together they will provide enough low-cost electricity to power roughly 110,000 homes in the area. Earlier this year PV Tech reported that the project has a levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) of 58 cents per kilowatt hour for 30 years. When that figure is adjusted for inflation adjustment that equals to between 35 cents per kWh and 38 cents per kWh. “Below gas-fired power plants and some of the cheapest coal plants,” wrote PV Tech’s Tom Kenning.
“The Springbok solar projects are integral to meeting Los Angeles’s renewable energy targets of 25 percent by 2016 and 33 percent by 2020. We are pleased to have a project of this size, scope, and importance completed on-budget and ahead of schedule,” said Michael Webster, LADWP Executive Director of Power System Engineering and Technical Services. 8minutenergy began work on the project in 2011 and it created an estimated 300 direct and 400 indirect jobs during construction.
“Projects like Springbok 1 and 2 produce affordable, locally generated electricity while providing significant benefits to the local economy through job creation and collaboration with area businesses,” said George Hershman, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Swinerton Renewable Energy. “Construction at Springbok 1 and 2 created over 700 jobs for Kern County and the surrounding area.”
The power coming from the plant will be among the cheapest ever for a US solar project, according to GTM Research solar analyst Colin Smith. That organization doesn't adjust for inflation as 8minutenergy did when it came up with the LCOE. "That being said, when we compare this to others, it is one of the lowest PPA prices for operating projects—but not the lowest,” Smith told GTM. “For instance, NextEra brought its Chaves County project on-line in October, which we calculated to have an average PPA price of $42.08 per megawatt-hour, with a $36.44 year-one price and a 2 percent escalator.”
Looking ahead Smith anticipated that utility-scale solar projects will continue to come in at prices under $40 per MWh. “I wouldn't be shocked to see year-one pricing below $30 per megawatt-hour soon, too. In short, we are going to see PPA prices continue to decline along with declining all-in utility PV costs, driven primarily by declining balance-of-system and module prices.”
Maybe the lowest-cost project could be from an 8minutenergy project. After all the company is aggressively building out other large utility-scale solar projects like the 50 megawatt Midway Solar Farm project in Imperial County, CA.Tweet