Enel begins operations of its largest solar plant in North America

Published on Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Enel S.p.A. (“Enel”), through its subsidiary Enel Green Power North America, Inc. (“EGP-NA”), has started operations of its 150 MWdc[1] Aurora solar photovoltaic (PV) plant in Minnesota, United States. Aurora is the largest facility in Enel’s North American solar portfolio.

“The completion of Aurora is another major milestone in our continued strong growth in the U.S.,” said Rafael Gonzalez, Head of Enel Green Power North America. “We are proud to be a part of growing Minnesota’s energy economy through maximising the utility-scale distributed solar model. This model, which we have implemented through the Aurora solar plant, consists of the installation of multiple small-scale solar sites to supply green energy to communities across the state, and furthers our ‘open power’ approach to open energy access to more people, new technologies and new uses. The innovative design of Aurora highlights how renewables can provide both sustainable, reliable energy to communities while delivering significant environmental benefits and economic value.”

The Aurora solar park, which is owned by EGP-NA subsidiary Aurora Distributed Solar, LLC, consists of 16 PV plants across Minnesota. Aurora can generate approximately 210 million kWh annually, equivalent to the energy consumption needs of over 17,000 U.S. households, while avoiding the emission of over 150,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.

The overall investment in the construction of Aurora amounted to approximately 290 million US dollars. The PV plant sells its energy under a long-term power purchase agreement with utility Xcel Energy in Minnesota.

The utility-scale distributed solar model delivers a range of benefits, including a reduction in line loss and elimination of transmission costs due to geographic proximity of the different communities served as well as geographic diversification of renewable energy generation assets. Each of the 16 solar facilities utilises linear axis trackers to maximise efficiency and production, and delivers green energy to the off-taker’s distribution system.

The Aurora solar park increased EGP-NA’s total installed capacity in Minnesota to 380 MW. EGP-NA already owns and operates two wind farms in the state, Prairie Rose (200 MW) and Minnesota Wind (30 MW). Aurora is EGP-NA’s third PV solar project built in the U.S., in addition to the existing solar facilities of Stillwater in Nevada and Sheldon Springs in Vermont.  

EGP-NA is a leading owner and operator of renewable energy plants in North America with projects operating and under development in 23 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. EGP-NA operates around 100 plants with a managed capacity exceeding 3.3 GW powered by renewable hydropower, wind, geothermal and solar energy.

Enel Green Power, the Renewable Energies division of Enel Group, is dedicated to the development and operation of renewables across the world, with a presence in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Enel Green Power is a global leader in the green energy sector with a managed capacity of 38 GW across a generation mix that includes wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and hydropower, and is at the forefront of integrating innovative technologies like storage systems into renewables power plants.

[1] 150 MWdc solar panels will inject up to 100 MWac peak power in to the grid