Enel Green Power (EGP) has broken ground on its Azure Sky PV-plus-storage project in the US state of Texas, with one-third of the 284MW array’s electricity production being sold by the Italian developer to American home improvement group Home Depot.
Azure Sky, EGP’s second solar development in the US after the 181MW Lily announced in July, will hive off 75MW of electricity to the DYI chain, enough to power some 150 of its box-stores.
“EGP is serious about storage in North America,” said Salvatore Bernabei, head of global power generation. “Coming weeks after our announcement of the Lily project, Azure Sky’s groundbreaking is yet another step forward toward a sustainable future with flexible, hybrid plants that will generate renewable power alongside stabilizing power grids.
“This project is testimony to the resilience of the energy transition fueled by innovation and a steady appetite for renewable energy from commercial customers.”
Home Depot said its deal with EGP, the retailer’s largest clean-energy corporate power purchase agreement to-date, would help it make “substantial progress” toward the company’s sustainability goal of procuring 335MW of renewable or “alternative” energy as outlined in its 2020 Responsibility Report.
The retailer defines “alternative” energy as from “any projects driven by Home Depot that have environmental benefits but [where the company doesn’t] retain the RECs [renewable energy certificates], such as onsite fuel cell and solar generation and offsite community solar projects where the RECs go to the utility”.
“Our collaboration with EGP strengthens our efforts to tap into sustainable energy that’s produced off-site,” said Ron Jarvis, Home Depot’s chief sustainability office.
“Not only does it expand our energy options and reduce our carbon footprint, but when Home Depot procures or produces energy from renewable sources, we strengthen the business case for clean power such alternatives.”
Built around latest-generation bifacial PV panels, Azure Sky, located near Dallas-Forth Worth, is expected to generate over 586GWh a year, delivering to the grid and charging the solar-farm’s on-site battery, which is capable of storing up to 116MWh at a time.
EGP said the hybrid plant is designed around the integration of “regenerative agriculture and circular economy principles”, and would use “a native and pollinator-friendly seed mix” to cultivate a habitat with both “operational efficiency and ecosystem services in the form of providing monarch butterflies [and] honey bees access”.
The development is pursuing an “active growth” strategy in North American, with plans to install around 1GW of wind and solar projects annually on the continent as part of a three-year strategic campaign.
Along with the Azure Sky and Lily projects, EGP’s regional wind portfolio includes the 236.5MW White Cloud in Missouri, the 299MW Aurora in North Dakota, and a 199MW expansion of the Cimarron Bend complex in Kansas.
· This article was updated to include Home Depot’s definition of “alternative“ energy