Commercial, Industrial, Solar, Sourcing Renewables  -  May 30, 2019

Facebook’s first direct investment in RE; Shell to share RECs

Facebook will be the sole tax equity investor in the $416 million Prospero Solar project in Andrews County, Texas. While the company has been a leader in the procurement of clean energy, this represents their first direct investment in a renewable energy project. When completed in 2020, the project will be one of the largest solar farms in the U.S., with a nameplate capacity of 379 MW.

“Facebook is excited to be one of the first companies to use a direct investment to meet our renewable energy goals,” said Peter Freed, energy strategy manager at Facebook.  “We hope such investments can be a new avenue of meaningfully engaging with projects, which might be easier for some companies than a long-term power purchase agreement, thereby unlocking new options for more organizations to meet their goals and grow the market.”

Shell Energy North America (SENA) signed a 12-year PPA for the project’s power off-take, which is one of the first off-take agreements of this type in the solar industry. Both Facebook and Shell will share the renewable energy attributes generated by the project’s energy production, according to a statement from Longroad Energy announcing the financial close and start of construction of the project.

“We are proud to add this project to our portfolio of zero carbon assets and to further Shell’s efforts to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Glenn Wright, president of SENA.  “This is another great opportunity to be a part of increasing the supply of renewable power into the grid while also helping our assets in the Permian to meet their sustainability goals.”

“Facebook is proud to have helped finance a solar project under this innovative off-take arrangement,” said Freed. “We hope our participation will help validate the structure and bring many new solar projects to the grid.”


SED's View: The RE market is evolving rapidly. This landmark deal would have been unthinkable just two years ago where a major oil company serves as the primary off-taker of a renewable energy project financed by a high tech player. The deal exemplifies both the broadening of the market for RE buyers and the growing interest by early adopters like Facebook and Starbucks in making RE available to others. We think Peter Freed's hope that this deal validates a model for bringing more projects to the grid will become a reality. 

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