Swift Current starts work on 800MW solar PV project in Illinois


Modules for Swift Current Energy’s 800MW solar PV project in Illinois will be provided by thin-film manufacturer First Solar. Image: First Solar.

US solar developer Swift Current Energy has started construction on its 800MWdc ‘Double Black Diamond’ solar PV project in central Illinois.

Commercial operation of the project is expected to be reached by fall 2024, with Swift Current owning and operating the facility.

The company selected construction company McCarthy Building Companies as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the project.

Most of the project’s 1.6 million solar panels will be manufactured in the US, with thin-film manufacturer First Solar as the provider for the modules, continuing the partnership between both companies after securing a supply deal last year for 2GW of modules to be supplied in 2025-2026.

PV tracker solutions provider Nextracker has been selected to provide solar trackers for the solar PV project.

Part of the energy produced by the 800MW solar plant will be purchased by the City of Chicago, in a move from the Illinois city to procure the entirety of its power from renewables by 2025 and for which it entered into an agreement with electricity supplier Constellation and Swift Current last year.

The procurement would allow Chicago to procure energy from renewables to power several of its buildings, including its two main airports.

Insurance company State Farm and chemicals company PPG have also signed power purchase agreements with the ‘Double Black Diamond’ solar project.

Furthermore, the solar developer has more than 9GW of solar, wind and storage projects under development across nine US states.

“As the developer and long-term owner of Double Black Diamond, we are thrilled to prepare for full mobilisation of the more than 400 skilled workers who will construct this project,” said Eric Lammers, CEO of Swift Current Energy.

The project set apprenticeship, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion hiring goals, which are being facilitated by local unions for carpenters, labourers, operators, electricians, and crew leads.

Moreover and in collaboration with unions, McCarthy will train workers with no experience in utility-scale solar construction to assist with future workforce needs. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued in November a wage and apprentice guidance under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that was initiated for projects starting on 30 January 2023.

Since the IRA passed into law in August 2022, the US has created more than 100,000 clean energy jobs across 31 states as companies start to capitalise on the incentives and security the bill offers.

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