Bighorn solar project is a 300MW solar farm being developed in Colorado, US. It is set to be the largest on-site solar project in the country.
The project is being developed by Lightsource bp, who will also serve as the owner and operator of the solar facility.
The solar farm in the US will enable Xcel Energy, an electric and natural gas services provider, to achieve its Colorado Energy Plan target of delivering 55% renewable energy to the grid by 2026 and achieving a 60% reduction in carbon emissions. It will also support the company’s vision of providing 100% carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050.
The solar project is expected to generate 300 direct jobs during the construction phase, creating employment opportunities for workers from the local community.
Furthermore, it will contribute to the economy of Pueblo and generate more than $22m in local tax revenue.
The construction of the farm began in October 2020 and is anticipated to last 12 to 14 months. The solar project is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.
The Bighorn solar project is being built on 728ha of land on the EVRAZ Rocky Mountain steel property in the city of Pueblo in Colorado. It will produce 300MW of direct current (DC) and 240MW of alternating current (AC).
The facility will be installed with more than 750,000 solar panels, which will be bifacial solar photovoltaic (PV) modules on single-axis trackers.
The power generated from the project will be purchased by Xcel Energy under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) and supplied to the EVRAZ Rocky Mountain steel mill facility in Pueblo, which recycles scrap metal into new, clean steel.
The solar farm will provide cost-effective electricity to ensure the operation and expansion of the EVRAZ steel mill. EVRAZ will be the first steel mill in the North American region to largely depend on solar power once the power project becomes operational. Bighorn will be one of the largest on-site solar projects, meeting the power needs of a single customer in the US.
The solar farm will produce 613,400 megawatt-hours of energy a year, offsetting approximately 90% of the steel mill’s annual electricity demand.
It will save 433,770t of CO₂ a year, which is equivalent to removing 92,100 cars off the roads.
The Bighorn solar project is being developed with an investment of $285m raised by Lightsource bp and project investors.
Lightsource bp closed the $285m financing package for the project in October 2020. The company secured tax equity financing from Bank of America, while debt for the facility is provided by Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), Societe Generale, and Export Development Canada (EDC).
Lightsource bp awarded a contract to McCarthy Building Companies to provide engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services for the project.
Operis conducted a review of the financial model for Lightsource bp for the solar project. CohnReznick Capital advised Lightsource bp on the tax equity transaction.
In addition to Bighorn, Lightsource bp’s solar projects portfolio in the US includes the Impact Solar project (260MW) in Texas, Bellflower Solar project (190MW) and Peony Solar project (315MW) in Indiana, and Elm Branch Solar project (163MW) and Briar Creek Solar project (153MW) in Texas.
The Conway Solar project (132MW) in Arkansas, Black Bear Solar project (130MW) in Alabama, Penn State project (70MW) in Pennsylvania, Johnson Corner Solar project (27MW) in Kansas, Wildflower Solar project (16MW) in California, Grants & Bluewater Solar project (9MW) in Mexico, and Birch Solar project (375MW) in Ohio, also form part of the company’s US renewable energy portfolio.
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