Orbital picked to lead on US$725m, 1GW plan to turn US coal plants into solar farms

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email
Akon speaking at the Clean Energy America Inargural Ball on 20 January. Image: Orbital Solar Services

US singer and philanthropist Akon’s renewable investment fund, The Black Sunrise Half Century Fund, is to partner with a North Carolina installer to convert coal-fired power plants into solar farms.

The fund has named North Carolina-based installer Orbital Solar Services (OSS), a subsidiary of Orbital Energy Group, the fund’s engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) partner for the deal.

The Black Sunrise fund was created through US solar developer Akon Lighting America, and expects to build 1GW of solar capacity within three years with a minimum investment of US$725 million.

Akon told attendees of President Biden’s Clean Energy America Inaugural Ball on 20 January that the fund and OSS have partnered to decommission coal-fired power plants in the US and repurpose them as utility-scale solar farms. The decommissioning project will begin later this year.

OSS is responsible for providing full EPC services for the projects. The company has installed roughly 600MW of solar capacity across 40 projects to date.

Jim O’Neil, Orbital Energy’s vice-chairman and chief executive, said the partnership will “enhance our presence in the renewable energy marketplace well into 2021 and beyond.”

Artist Akon said in a statement that the joint venture will open up “significant opportunities for black entrepreneurs and black-owned companies throughout the industry.” During his speech at the ball, he said the fund would also commit to an employee development programme that would serve “underrepresented communities” with OSS.

“It furthers my commitment to diversify this industry while increasing the opportunities and quality of life for people in need around the world.”

The partnership follows the launch of a diversity and inclusion initiative for the solar sector last October, which has committed to educational and fundraising programmes to support US civil rights organisations the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Urban League.

Read Next

April 13, 2021
European solar investors are coming to terms with smaller returns, however banks, governments and grid operators could do more to help alleviate risk and ease investor concerns.
April 9, 2021
The US’ fleet of solar and wind generation capacity is set to almost triple over the next decade, but even this is not enough to meet President Biden’s ambitious decarbonisation targets, according to a recent BloombergNEF report.
April 9, 2021
Solar and storage provider Sunworks has acquired installer Solcius in a deal worth US$51.8 million.
April 8, 2021
Utility group Black Hills Energy has signed a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with solar energy company 174 Power Global for its first large-scale solar power project in Colorado, US.
April 7, 2021
Energy technology company AES Corporation has secured a US$301 million debt facility to finance the development of a community solar power project portfolio totalling 215MWdc capacity.
April 7, 2021
A round-up of the latest news from the US and Canada, including updates from distributor and developer BayWa r.e., construction group iSun and tracker specialist Arctech.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
April 13, 2021
Solar Media Events
April 20, 2021
Upcoming Webinars
April 28, 2021
4:00 - 4:30 PM CET