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Enel unveils 497MW solar project in Texas, the state's largest

Global renewables heavyweight Enel has recently turned to Texas for much of its near-term US build-out

Enel Green Power North America has revealed a 497MW solar project underway in Texas, underscoring the company’s turn towards solar – and its recent re-entry into the Lone Star State.

EGP-NA, the US-based subsidiary of Italy’s Enel group, says it recently broke ground at the first 252MW phase of its Roadrunner project, due on line later this year, with the remaining 245MW set for completion in 2020.

Roadrunner is located in Upton County, west Texas, which also hosts part of the 450MW High Lonesome wind project EGP-NA recently began building. The Roadrunner project was developed to this point by Texas-based Cielo Wind, an EGP-NA spokesperson confirmed to Recharge.

The solar project's first phase has a long-term off-taker, which EGP-NA is not disclosing at this time.

High Lonesome and Roadrunner represent a huge splash back into Texas for EGP-NA, which owns a single small wind farm in the state today and has not otherwise been publicly active there for a decade.

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EGP-NA is among the leading operators of US onshore wind farms, and a major solar developer at the global level. Like many of its competitors in the American wind market, the company is diversifying quickly into solar as the wind production tax credit begins to phase down.

The solar investment tax credit will be in effect longer than the wind PTC, and will not phase down entirely under existing laws, potentially giving the solar market an edge from the early 2020s onward.

Texas is shaping up to be one of the most important battlegrounds for wind and solar in the US, with incredible natural resources for both technologies – alongside vast amount of cheap land to accommodate big projects and a growing electric load thanks to its thriving economy.

The US is of central importance to EGP-NA’s global renewables build-out, with plans to build about 1GW a year here through the early 2020s. A big push into solar could extend the company's US growth runway considerably.

Texas has less than 3GW of solar installed today, compared to 25GW of wind, but the state is expected to crack 1GW of annual solar installations this year and could grow strongly from there. Roadrunner will be the largest solar facility in the state when built.

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In recent months, EGP-NA has pointedly pushed beyond its core wind development regions in the US, including a new wind project in Illinois, a power market overseen by grid operator PJM.

“The US market is rich with opportunities for growth and has an increasing appetite for sustainable electricity,” says Georgios Papadimitriou, head of EGP-NA.

“Projects like Roadrunner are indicative of our ability to capitalise on this trend, while boosting the diversity of the business both in geography and technology.”

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