Google provides $145 million for SunEdison solar project on former oilfield

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Google has finalized US$145 million in equity financing for SunEdison’s Regulus PV project, which is currently under construction in California’s Kern County. SunEdison developed, designed, and is constructing the Regulus project, which is part of the initial portfolio of its TerraForm Power yieldco subsidiary.

The project comprises over 480,000 of SunEdison monocrystalline Silvantis PV modules spread over 3 square kilometers of an abandoned oil and gas field in Southern California’s Kern County.

At 82 MW-DC it is a large utility-scale project, at a time when utility-scale PV projects are getting smaller. “We are seeing a shift somewhat from these large-scale projects and a big growth in the 1-30 MW range,” explains NPD Solarbuzz Senior Analyst Michael Barker.

Barker also says the participation of companies like Google is a sign of the increasing ability of PV projects to raise funds. “it is another piece of evidence that other large companies are finding the economics of these large-scale plants attractive,” notes Barker. “It means a lot more money is flowing into the downstream segment in the United States.”

Analysts cite need to attract capital to support SunEdison’s ambitious project pipeline as one of the main reasons for the creation of Terraform Power. By also seeking equity investments, SunEdison is maximizing its fundraising, and the participation of Google brings other benefits.

“Certainly having Google attached and Google funds is not a bad strategy or publicity issue,” notes Barker. “Whether (project funding) is through yieldcos or other forms of finance is just a balance.”

Regulus makes the 17th renewable energy project in three continents that Google has invested in since 2010, with a combined capacity of over 2.5 GW. This is Google’s first investment in a SunEdison project.