NextEra upbeat on solar grid parity, standalone storage prospects

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Reddit
Email
In Florida, construction of a 750MW pipeline across ten projects is 'on track and on budget' to go live in Q1 2019, NextEra said (Image credit: NextEra)

New-build solar and wind could outcompete most existing fossil fuels by 2025, NextEra Energy executives have predicted even as they described storage-only ventures as a worthy venture.

Jim Robo, chair and CEO of the energy giant, shared the firm’s bullish outlook on renewable project economics as he spoke on a recent conference call discussing its full-year financial results.

This article requires Premium SubscriptionBasic (FREE) Subscription

Unlock unlimited access for 12 whole months of distinctive global analysis

Photovoltaics International is now included.

  • Regular insight and analysis of the industry’s biggest developments
  • In-depth interviews with the industry’s leading figures
  • Unlimited digital access to the PV Tech Power journal catalogue
  • Unlimited digital access to the Photovoltaics International journal catalogue
  • Access to more than 1,000 technical papers
  • Discounts on Solar Media’s portfolio of events, in-person and virtual

Or continue reading this article for free

Predicting lower prices for new near-firm wind (US$20-30/MWh) and solar (US$30-40/MWh) by 2025, Robo added: “At these prices, new near-firm renewables will be cheaper than the operating costs of most existing coal, nuclear and less fuel efficient oil and gas-fired generation units.”

The remarks came as results for NextEra Energy Resources, its flagship development arm, showed the unit commissioned 2.7GW across all renewables last year. Between January and December, the firm claims to have amassed a PV, wind and battery project backlog of 5.8GW.

According to NextEra, 1.6GW of the full-year 5.8GW backlog boost was added between October and December alone. This last-minute surge included 770MW of new solar and 340MW of new battery storage, the firm said, noting that the latter will be fully collocated alongside solar.

NextEra used the financial update to offer a timetable for solar plays through 2022 and beyond. The firm claims to have signed 1.4GW worth of 2019-2020 solar contracts (out of the 1-2.5GW it was expecting), coupled with 2.9GW for 2021-2022, compared to 2.8GW-4.8GW expectations.

GAAP net income drops as Nasdaq shares rally

NextEra’s backlog bump came as its Energy Resources unit posted GAAP-based net income of US$1.8 billion for 2019, down from US$4.7 billion in 2018. The decline extended to the entire NextEra group, with GAAP net income dropping from 2018 (US$6.6 billion) to 2019 (US$3.7 billion).

The firm claimed using a non-GAAP metric – what it described as adjustable earnings – revealed instead a 2018-to-2019 jump for the NextEra group, from US$3.67 billion to US$4 billion. NextEra said it believes the metric offers a “more meaningful representation” of its earnings power.

The wider market appeared to endorse NextEra’s claims of a financially sound 2019. When trading ended last Friday, the firm’s shares on New York exchange Nasdaq had rallied to a 52-week peak of US$264.08, according to a statement by the trading venue.

The firm’s update extended to its Florida Power & Light (FPL) subsidiary, which is working on a “30 by 30” plan to install 30 million solar panels (a 10GW pipeline all in all) across the US state by 2030. Over 2019, the firm completed the 74.5MW Okeechobee solar complex.

Further Florida developments are “progressing well”, said NextEra CFO Rebecca Kujawa. Construction of a 750MW pipeline across ten projects is “on track and on budget” to start supplying FPL customers in early 2020, added Kujawa, who is also an executive VP.

Another of the group’s Florida-based subsidiaries – utility Gulf Power, which may merge with FPL in the future – is too working to deliver its own solar debut. The so-called Indigo Solar Energy Center, boasting some 75MW in capacity, should go online later in Q1 2020.

Storage, a business ‘in its own right’

NextEra’s update gave ample evidence of the central role energy storage is set to play in the firm’s portfolio going forward.

As CEO Jim Robo noted, over 50% of all solar capacity added to the project pipeline in 2019 features a battery element. “The current backlog has more than 2,000 megawatts of trifecta projects that combine wind, solar and battery storage together,” the executive added.

NextEra’s separate timetables for energy storage show its portfolio will sharply rise between 2019-2020 (22MW signed where 50-150MW is expected) and 2021-2022 (591MW signed, 650-1,250MW forecasts). Post-2020, the firm claims to have signed deals for 786MW of storage.

The firm, Robo anticipated, may follow by embracing storage even more decisively. “We also increasingly see storage as an important stand-alone business in its own right as we are reviewing a number of opportunities to add storage to our existing solar sites,” the executive said.

The prospects and challenges of solar's new era in the US will take centre stage at Solar Media's Large Scale Solar USA, scheduled to take place in Austin (Texas) on 23-24 June 2020.

1 May 2024
Dallas, Texas
Nestled in Dallas, Texas, Large Scale Solar USA Summit 3rd Edition is the nexus for project developers, capital providers, utilities, asset managers, and policymakers. Dive deep into the solar industry's transformative growth, learn from the best, and discover strategies to boost utility-scale solar deployment nationwide.
21 May 2024
Napa, USA
PV Tech has been running PV ModuleTech Conferences since 2017. PV ModuleTech USA, on 21-22 May 2024, will be our third PV ModulelTech conference dedicated to the U.S. utility scale solar sector. The event will gather the key stakeholders from solar developers, solar asset owners and investors, PV manufacturing, policy-making and and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out the PV module supply channels to the U.S. out to 2025 and beyond.
8 October 2024
San Francisco Bay Area, USA
PV Tech has been running an annual PV CellTech Conference since 2016. PV CellTech USA, on 8-9 October 2024 is our second PV CellTech conference dedicated to the U.S. manufacturing sector. The event in 2023 was a sell out success and 2024 will once again gather the key stakeholders from PV manufacturing, equipment/materials, policy-making and strategy, capital equipment investment and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out PV manufacturing in the U.S. out to 2030 and beyond.
26 November 2024
Málaga, Spain
Understanding PV module supply to the European market in 2025. PV ModuleTech Europe 2024 is a two-day conference that tackles these challenges directly, with an agenda that addresses all aspects of module supplier selection; product availability, technology offerings, traceability of supply-chain, factory auditing, module testing and reliability, and company bankability.

Read Next

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
May 1, 2024
Dallas, Texas
Solar Media Events
May 21, 2024
Sydney, Australia