A familiar name has re-entered the solar energy development business, as billionaire philanthropist Ted Turner and energy giant Southern Company have formed a strategic alliance to pursue development of renewable energy projects in the United States.
The partners say they will focus initially on developing and investing in large-scale solar photovoltaic projects in the Southwest, where solar resources are most efficient and in demand, with the goal of further commercializing the technology and making it more cost competitive.
Turner owns more than 2 million acres of land, making him reportedly the largest individual landowner in North America. The alliance says it will explore renewable projects both on his land as well as other suitable sites, and may eventually branch out into other forms of clean energy.
Financial details of the alliance have not been disclosed.
“This alliance unites our common goal to explore and develop new renewable energy projects,” said David Ratcliffe, CEO of the Atlanta-based utility company. “We have said for some time that renewable energy should play an increasing role in this country’s energy mix and that Southern Company would seek opportunities to expand our renewable portfolio where it makes sense. This is evidence of that commitment.”
“I’ve always been passionate about developing renewable energy, and I’m excited to join forces with Southern Company to explore our renewable energy potential,” said Ted Turner, owner of Turner Renewable Energy. “Southern Company’s experience in power project development, construction, and operations, and customer relations help make this a strong alliance, and I look forward to working together.”
Turner sold his solar project development business to First Solar for $34.4 million in December 2007, which marked the thin-film PV company’s first foray into the engineering, procurement, and construction side of the business.
The Turner Foundation is also active in the support of environmental and sustainability efforts.