More Big Batteries for the West, as EDF Renewables Nabs Deal with NV Energy

EDF Renewables plans to build a 200-megawatt solar plant with a 180 megawatt/720 megawatt-hour battery for Nevada utility NV Energy, the developer announced Wednesday, adding to the growing list of large solar-and-storage projects under construction within the state and region.   

Even at that size, the project will only barely skate onto the list of the 10 largest batteries in the U.S., based on tracking of confirmed project details from Wood Mackenzie. This month NV Energy filed a proposal with state regulators to add 478 megawatts of new solar and 338 megawatts of new storage by the end of 2023. EDF’s project, called Chuckwalla Solar+Storage, is the largest among that portfolio.

Only a year ago EDF’s plans would have ranked among the largest battery projects in the world , but announcements in recent months have continued to top each other. The largest solar and storage project currently planned in the U.S., Gemini Solar from Arevia Power and Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, is also located in Nevada with NV Energy as offtaker.

Such projects have become increasingly common in the U.S., especially in the Southwest and West. Also on Wednesday, regulators in New Mexico approved  650 megawatts of solar and 300 megawatts of storage to replace electricity the San Juan Generating Station now delivers to Public Service Company of New Mexico. 

“It's a sign of the times that an announcement for a 720-megawatt hour project doesn't raise eyebrows anymore,” said Dan Finn-Foley, WoodMac’s head of energy storage. “What is notable … is how solar-plus-storage systems and contract terms are being structured, and this provides another data point.”

“Energy storage is a flexible resource and it's notable that so much of that flexibility comes not just in its operation but in planning," Finn-Foley said. "Storage can be sized for varied durations to meet needs, but contract terms can include longer or shorter PPAs or different payment structures to ensure flexibility."

EDF and NV Energy signed a 22-year power purchase agreement. EDF did not immediately respond to questions on the PPA’s price.  

NV Energy's race for solar power

It’s not EDF’s first deal with NV Energy. In 2017, EDF acquired two First Solar projects under contracted with the Nevada utility. Last year EDF and NV Energy inked another PPA for a 200-megawatt solar and a 75-megawatt/five-hour battery project. Both that project and Chuckwalla will be located on the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians Reservation, with the Moapa Tribe receiving land lease and tax payments from project construction and siting. First Solar and 8minute Solar Energy have also planned solar projects on Moapa Tribal lands. 

The announcement from EDF, and the broader solar and storage proposal from NV Energy, shed more light on how Nevada’s largest utility plans to meet new state requirements for 50 percent renewable electricity by...