Ørsted commissions 518MW solar-plus-wind project in Texas

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The Helena Energy Center is Ørsted’s first co-located project in the US. Image: Ørsted.

Danish renewable energy company Ørsted has commissioned its Helena Energy Center in the US state of Texas, a 518MW co-located solar and wind project.

The facility is Ørsted’s first co-located project in the US, and consists of two projects, the 268MW Helena Wind Farm and the 250MW Sparta solar project. The project is located in Bee County, and is part of Ørsted’s US$20 billion investment into energy generation facilities in the US.

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“This project should come as welcome news to all Texans as it provides significant clean power to our state at a time when all eyes are on grid reliability,” said Texas Senator Morgan Lamantia, who represents Bee County. “I’m especially proud that the Bee County community will also benefit from workforce opportunities, public school support, and funding for rural areas like ours.”

Large-scale solar power is nothing new in Texas, with 32.1GW of capacity in operation in the first quarter of this year, according to the US Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which expects the state to add 50.5GW of new capacity over the next five years, the most in the US. Lamantia’s comments, however, draw attention to growing concerns over grid availability for new solar projects in a number of markets, including Texas, which has sought to deliver new power generation capacity alongside more reliable grid infrastructure.

The Helena centre is Ørsted’s third project to reach commercial operation in the US, and increases its solar generation capacity in the country to 647MW. Ørsted partially funded the Sparta project through a US$680 million tax equity financing with investment bank JP Morgan, signed last month.

As part of this financing, Ørsted plans to invest in both solar and solar-plus-storage projects. The company has also built a 40MW storage project at its 410MW Permian Energy Center, also in Texas, as it looks to expand its battery energy storage systems in the US.

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