Earlier this year we saw a flurry of 200MW and 300MW announcements followed eventually by the eye-popping 2GW Chinese project from FirstSolar. The message many seemed to be taking away is that “bigger is better” when it comes to solar. However, while the world desperately needs more renewables, there is a growing chorus of concern about these large-scale projects in terms of land use, water requirements, and the 5+ years timeframes associated with bringing these projects online.
One of the things that makes Recurrent Energy unique is our focus on distributed-scale projects—our vision is to build a fleet of 2MW-20MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants connected directly to the existing distribution grid.
Distributed scale projects enjoy important advantages over large-scale projects--they're less complex, faster to interconnect and they bypass time-consuming land-use issues that often add years to project timelines. In short, distributed PV projects benefit from:
- Easier to site - Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is clean and quiet, which means it can be sited on or near occupied buildings. Plus solar PV is highly modular, making it easy to adapt to site conditions and scalable to existing transmission capacity.
- Faster to interconnect - A distributed solar project can be scaled to meet the capacity that already exists on the grid. And projects under 20MW in size are fastracked via the Small Generator Interconnection Protocol (SGIP). The result is that distributed scale projects go through a quicker review and are less likely to encounter delays waiting for lengthy transmission system upgrades.
- Less environmentally sensitive land use - Unlike large-scale solar, distributed-scale projects don't need thousands of acres of pristine wilderness. Instead, distributed scale projects can be sited on previously disturbed lands and large industrial rooftops (see our Spain announcement). That means they get through land use approvals and permitting faster.
As a result of these advantages, Recurrent Energy can deliver projects in as little as 1 to 2 years versus the 5 or more years typically associated with larger scale developments. Bottom line, we can deliver the benefits of solar sooner to customers, the environment, and our investors when compared to large-scale solar.
What’s great about the approach we’re taking is that it’s both a great environmental strategy and a sound business strategy. And while our individual solar projects are smaller than large-scale projects, our pipeline of over 1000MW across North America and Europe demonstrates that our strategy can still deliver large volumes.