US ROUND-UP: Maxeon raises US$150.8m, SunPower returns to large-scale solar projects, National Grid signs three solar PPAs

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Maxeon will use some of the funds raised to scale up manufacturing capacity. Image: Maxeon

A round-up of the latest news from the US solar sector, including distributed solar specialist SunPower’s return to large-scale power systems, panel maker Maxeon’s share offering, and developer National Grid Renewables’ PPA with Hershey, Home Depot and NRG.

Maxeon raises US$150m in share offering

20 April 2021: Solar panel supplier Maxeon has secured US$150.8 million after closing a public offering and private placement of shares this week.

Maxeon raised US$125 million through a public offering of ordinary shares at US$18 per share, while the remaining funds were raised from the sale of 1.87 million shares to an affiliate of Tianjin Zhonghuan Semiconductor, a China-based manufacturer of semiconductor materials and new energy products, which is now among Maxeon’s largest shareholders, alongside Total.

Maxeon said in a statement that the funds will be used to fuel the expansion of its Performance line, and to ramp up manufacturing capacity for several Maxeon panel designs, as well as “research and development and other projects”.

The announcement comes weeks after the US Department of Energy announced it will set aside US$128 million in funding for R&D into solar manufacturing to ramp up domestic production.

SunPower returns to utility-scale solar

21 April 2021: Distributed solar specialist SunPower is partnering with Baltimore County to cover two closed landfills into solar power systems in Maryland.

The brownfield projects, which will be located at the Hernwood and Parkton landfills respectively, will collectively have a capacity of 30MW, making them Baltimore County’s first large-scale solar projects. SunPower is expected to break ground on the projects next year, with a view to bringing them online by 2023.

Baltimore County will become the projects’ offtaker through a 25-year power purchase agreement with no upfront costs. Utility Baltimore Gas & Electric will also credit the solar generated at the landfills against other electricity at other county buildings, owing to the state of Maryland’s aggregate net metering rule, SunPower said in a statement.

The deal comes on the same day that Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski signed an executive order to ensure that renewable energy makes up the equivalent of 100% of Baltimore County’s electricity demand by 2026.

Olszewski said he is “thankful for this partnership with SunPower to transform these sites into productive alternative energy sources, further reducing Baltimore County’s carbon footprint and helping us meet our renewable energy goals.”

SunPower pivoted away from utility-scale solar development in 2018, prioritising distributed solar deployment in the US.

National Grid Renewables signs three solar PPAs

20 April 2021: Minneapolis-based developer National Grid Renewables has signed three

power purchase agreements (PPAs) for its 400MW solar-plus-storage development under construction in Denton County, Texas.

DIY company The Home Depot and esports group NRG and have signed a deal to offtake 100MW of solar energy each from the Noble project when it comes online next year, while confectioner The Hershey Company has agreed to offtake 50MW through a solar PPA.

David Reamer, head of development, for National Grid Renewables, said the company is “proud” to work with “some of the nation’s most prominent businesses” to bring the Texas solar project to life.

Module company First Solar will supply its Series 6 thin film solar modules for the project, which is due to be completed in the first half of 2022 and is expected to create 250 jobs during the construction phase.

National Grid’s contracts were announced on the same day that tech giant Amazon revealed plans for a further nine solar and wind projects in the US, putting it on track to be powered by 100% renewables within four years.

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