Case Study - SolarReserve
SolarReserve is a leading global developer of utility-scale solar projects, generating electricity using both solar thermal and photovoltaic technologies.
Bregal Responsible Investment Report - 2017
SolarReserve has commercialised a proprietary, advanced solar thermal technology with integrated energy storage that solves the intermittency issues experienced with other renewable energy sources.
The company currently has more than $1.8 billion of projects in operation worldwide. Since inception, SolarReserve has developed and secured long-term power contracts for 775 megawatts of solar projects, representing $3.4 billion of project capital.
Head office: Santa Monica, CA, USA.
ESG industry relevance
At the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21), 195 countries committed to limit global warming to well below 2°C. Subsequently, national actions to reduce emissions have been ratcheted up. One of the key areas of decarbonisation is the transition to more sustainable power generation, combined with extended electrification. Intermittent renewables, such as solar and wind, will continue and increase their relevance for the future global power mix.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, global annual investments in renewable power rose steadily in 2013–2015, peaking at $360 billion in 2015 before falling in 2016, and recovering to $334 billion in 2017. In the past decade, solar power has become the driver of renewable installations, dwarfing other technologies. Since 2005, new investments in solar power multiplied ten-fold, making up 48% of the capital attracted by renewables in 2017. As cost competitiveness continues to improve, 2018 is expected to outstrip the record high of 98 gigawatts of capacity installed worldwide in 2017.
Sustainable path to power generation
Sustainable path to power generation
Sustainable path to power generation The company aligns with a vision of a rapidly increasing share of renewable power generation throughout the world. As renewable energy penetration grows, the need for utility-scale renewable generation with storage technology is increasingly important to mitigate intermittency problems, deliver power into peak demand periods, and support transmission system reliability. SolarReserve’s technology offers a sustainable solution for this problem in two ways. First, by operating as a baseload generator – 24/7, SolarReserve’s CSP plants are reliable sources of supply that can be dispatched by the grid operator whenever needed, irrespective of the sun resource at the time. Second, the plant can increase its output from 50% to 100% in just 30 minutes, having the ability to counterbalance the large intra-day swings in production triggered by highly correlated renewable generation without storage.
During the construction of Crescent Dunes, one specific issue that the project has raised was the avian fatalities, caused by flying into the solar flux. SolarReserve engineers designed and implemented heliostat standby configuration that minimises intensity of flux above and around the receiver in order to minimise risks to birds. This new collector field standby aiming strategy forms a pancake shape flux pattern in the sky that is less than four suns. Over the last year, avian fatalities averaged just four to five per month, primarily from collisions with buildings and structures, typical for any industrial facility, and with much lower rates than avian fatalities associated with conventional fossil fuelled facilities.
SolarReserve also seeks to be an active and responsible member in the local community. In Tonopah, Nevada, construction work of the Crescent Dunes project has created 1,050 jobs at the peak of the activity. In the operations stage, the company is consistently supporting multiple programmes that improve the quality of life and education in Tonopah, a community of 2,500 people. Over the years, SolarReserve and individual SolarReserve staff members have donated and volunteered in programmes for the local schools, supporting the purchase of a new local ambulance.
SolarReserve’s South Africa PV projects, now in operation, created more than 2,000 construction jobs and included extensive training to local workers on PV project installation and operations. A percentage of project revenue is set aside for enterprise and socioeconomic development, including funding local startup businesses and improvements to local schools and hospitals.
A long-standing partner of the Bright Star Schools in Los Angeles, SolarReserve seeks to contribute to making a lasting impact in the lives of students living in low-income households or local institutions for neglected or delinquent children. Each year, the SolarReserve Sustainability Scholarship, a merit-based $5,000 scholarship, is awarded to a college-bound senior with an interest in pursuing a career concerning environmental protection and sustainability. Also, SolarReserve provides summer internships to two students annually, and SolarReserve staff participate in various school improvement projects.
A seasoned management team and our world leading energy storage technology are at the core of SolarReserve’s success. We’re active in markets with the right mix of attributes in favour of utility-scale solar generation capacity, particularly with respect to solar thermal projects with integrated molten salt energy storage, SolarReserve’s core technology. The technology cost-effectively delivers dispatchable electricity on demand, operating just like a conventional power generation asset but without any carbon emissions or hazardous waste. It has helped establish the US as the leader in solar thermal technology, and is becoming the global industry standard for solar thermal projects. SolarReserve is also committed to serving our communities, a core component of our culture.
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