Danish renewables developer Ørsted has unveiled plans to build a 471MW solar project in Lamar County, Texas, which the company says will be the largest solar PV installation in its portfolio to date.
Ørsted reached final investment decision on the project, with construction scheduled to begin later this month and completion forecast for 2024. An undisclosed portion of the power generated at the site – called the Mockingbird Solar Centre – will be sold to bioscience health and nutrition company Royal DSM as part of a ten-year corporate power purchase agreement signed between the two companies in 2021.
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“Adding almost half a gigawatt to our portfolio, the decision to build Mockingbird represents an important milestone for our onshore business and for our expansion in solar PV,” said David Hardy, CEO of Region Americas at Ørsted.
As part of the project’s construction and development, Ørsted has established a collaboration with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to protect almost 1,000 acres of endangered prairie land adjacent to the Mockingbird solar project. The land will be donated to TNC before the plant begins operation, representing Ørsted’s first biodiversity initiative in the US.
Daniel Willard, Biodiversity Specialist Americas at Ørsted said: “We need to deliver green energy for this generation while protecting natural habitats for the next. Drawing on both internal expertise and outside guidance, we’ll continue to look for opportunities to protect the prairie and ensure that native plants and pollinators thrive.”
A PV Tech Premium article from December highlighted socio-environmental impacts, including maintaining biodiversity in areas around projects, as one of the key ESG concerns facing the solar PV industry.
The addition of the Mockingbird Solar Centre to Ørsted’s portfolio brings its total onshore renewable energy capacity to 5.5GW, 1.8GW of which is solar PV. The company has said it plans to expand this onshore capacity to over 17GW by 2030.
In July the company bought German renewables developer Ostwind for around US$704 million, and shortly prior to this it established an onshore unit in Spain targeting a multi-GW development pipeline in the country.