Enel moves on 13 GW pipeline, flips 6 GW of solar+storage


The wall of money often comes in sums greater than hundreds of millions of dollars at a time: a $200 million fund seeking C&I and small-scale utility solar projects, or wind+solar developers selling pipelines for more than $100 million.

And while we don’t know the official purchase price, Italian energy giant Enel has revealed that it has bought Tradewind Energy and its U.S. project pipeline of 7 GW of wind and 6 GW solar+storage — and 13 GW of projects almost always costs more than a cool hundred million.

Immediately following the transaction to purchase the portfolio, Enel flipped the solar+storage portion to Australia’s Macquarie. Tradewind Energy principals Rob Freeman and Geoff Coventry will stay on to manage the portfolio, and Enel says that it has earned a positive return on the flip.

Tradewind Energy does note a 750 MW energy storage portfolio on its website. But much of the site — including links to projects — has been updated to reflect Enel’s ownership of the company, so the size of the storage portfolio is still unknown, as it is unclear whether that 750 MW of capacity moved with the solar portfolio. No energy storage was noted with the wind portfolio.

Enel and Tradewind Energy have worked together since 2006, with Enel constructing about 3.9 GW of capacity developed by the latter. It was suggested that the Tradewind Energy team members who would stay on at Enel will help it to develop more projects in house.

Apparently, those in the know anticipated this move months ago:

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Macquarie has been busy; a few days ago, the financial services company announced that it had closed on debt financing for 97 MWh of batteries as the third phase of a 63 MW/340 MWh battery project for Southern California Edison. It wasn’t noted whether this was for 97 MWh, or the whole portfolio, but the battery systems are being installed across 89 sites, hosted by 28 customers throughout the West Los Angeles Basin region. Macquarie acquired the original portfolio from Advanced Microgrid Solutions in August 2016 and the two companies have been jointly developing and constructing it.

The Macquarie team that took on the solar+storage portfolio — Green Investment Group (GIG) — has no solar power projects in its listed investments. However, it does offer a 10-15 year energy storage PPA, with the main benefit of “shaving” peak demand. GIG is definitely participating in solar portfolios elsewhere, as the group announced a partnership with Univergy International SL to develop over 1 GW of solar power over the next five years, starting with a 550 MW project in Spain, 100 MW in France and a 50 MW floating PV plant in the Netherlands.

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