While the failure of one federally-backed solar project has been making headlines lately, the solar news out of Florida is positively electrifying (apologies for the pun).
Florida-based BlueChip Energy (BCE) is charging ahead on what will be the largest solar project in the Sunshine State – the 120 MW Sorrento Solar Farm. BCE recently announced an equity partnership with Neo Solar Power (NSP), a Taiwan-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells. NSP will supply at least 10 MW of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells.
“We are delighted to be working with NSP as a partner,” said Yongshuang Wang, VP of Strategic Development for BCE. “NSP’s executive management understands that to truly thrive in the PV industry, it is necessary to put your product to work in projects generating electricity revenue.”
NSP is one of the largest producers of solar cells in the world, with an installed capacity of 1.3 GW.
New Business Model
The Sorrento Farm is good news for solar power, and not simply because of its size. With the price of PV dropping, BCE’s innovative business model may become a trendsetter for the industry. Sorrento Solar Farm doesn’t use a power purchase agreement (PPA) and the project’s fate isn’t determined by outside financing. The manufacturers are funding the giant project themselves, and they will share the profits from electricity production and sales.
Earlier this year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Sorrento and another BCE utility-scale project, the Rinehart Solar Farm (also in Florida). FERC’s action means that the local utility is required to connect the solar farms to the grid and provide access to the distribution network.
Sorrento Solar Farm is expected to go online in 2012.