Endemic overcapacity and continued price declines within the polysilicon sector impeded Korean OCI Company’s previously announced plans for the construction of two plants in May. Nevertheless, its North-American arm, OCI Solar Power, has signed a landmark deal with CPS Energy in San Antonio, Texas, to develop more than 400MW of projects. The contracts are based on a 25-year power purchase agreement.
OCI Solar Power’s enterprise will be realized with the help of a consortium of partners, brought together by the company. The conglomerate estimates the projects will create over 800 long-term jobs, drive an estimated US$700 million in economic development each year, with US$1 billion in construction investment.
Municipally-owned electricity utility CPS Energy has already made its mark on San Antonio with new offices and a 19.8MW project inaugurated in the area last month as well as a 14MW installation, also in Texas, completed last year. CPS Energy president and CEO Doyle Beneby unveiled plans to make San Antonio a New Energy Economy hub in June 2011. CPS Energy's approach for a new energy economy leverages the pursuit of low and no-carbon emitting energy resources to stimulate local economic and educational development.
The Solar Energy Industries Association is an aficionado of Texas-based solar power generation. Its recent report detailed the benefits of adding solar PV capacity to the grid to reduce power outages and lowering electricity costs by an estimated US$520 million.
Completion of the first phase of the project is expected by mid-2013 and is to generate 50MW of power. The construction's final phases include two 105MW plants to be built in West and North Texas.
Spearheaded by Anthony Dorazio new OCI Solar Power president, the company's ambitious game plan includes ultimately powering 70,000 homes. The company has pencilled in more than 40 projects, ranging from 3MW – 400MW, across the US and Canada
Nexolon America will act as the anchor to the consortium, although its parent company is currently involved in a partnership dispute with the Lopez group awaiting resolution at the International Chamber of Commerce. Regarding the Texan project, Nexolon be investing US$100 million in building a high-tech manufacturing facility and locating its North American headquarters in San Antonio, in total creating over 400 jobs.
“Nexolon is looking forward to becoming a leader in solar power manufacturing in the US and we're excited that our expansion into North America is taking place in one of the most historic cities in America. We expect to contribute greatly to San Antonio's New Energy Economy,” said Nexolon board chair and chief strategy officer Woo-Jeong Lee.
“San Antonio can be for the New Energy Economy what Silicon Valley is to software and Boston is to biotech,” says Mayor Julian Castro. The project is expected to catapult Texas into the top five US solar producing states.