Climate Change Business Journal presents its 10th annual CCBJ Business Achievement Awards for outstanding business performance and achievements in the climate change industry in 2018. Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to all the companies that submitted nominations. All are welcome to attend the official awards ceremony as part of EBI’s annual Environmental Industry Summit in San Diego, CA on March 20, 2018 at 7pm. Environmental Industry Summit XVII runs Wednesday at 6pm to Friday 3pm on March 20-22, 2019.
Project Merit: Low-Carbon Energy
AECOM for completing its first Canadian environmental evaluation of a battery energy storage project on a distribution-sized (10 megawatt) project in southern Alberta with several nearby wind energy facilities. AECOM continues to assist its client in obtaining regulatory approvals, including preparation of an Environmental Evaluation to form part of the project application to the Alberta Utilities Commission. The environmental evaluation examines potential impacts of the project on the environment and outlines mitigation to reduce or eliminate the impacts. The battery storage energy facility will reduce GHG emissions, help ensure high reliability and power quality to local networks, and as a relatively new technology deployment, the permit process is setting a precedent for future storage projects.
Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of Belize for its Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) that is improving disaster and climate resilience along 85 km of coastline. Belize is a world-famous tourist destination known for its low-lying Caribbean islands, direct access to the Mesoamerican reef, and spectacular Mayan sites throughout the country. This popularity, however, has resulted in the concentration of economic growth in a small number of touristic sites, while storms and sea level rise threaten the coastal resilience of areas such as Corozal Bay region. Working in collaboration with IDB and the Government of Belize as part of the Sustainable Tourism Program, lead contractor Jacobs developed the SMP; the planning and design of four demonstration nature-based shoreline stabilization projects; engagement of community groups and other stakeholders to inform development of outputs; and socio-environmental, economic and financial feasibility studies to ensure sustainability of all recommendations. Utilizing state-of-the-art technologies for resilience modeling, the SMP and demonstration projects provide a long-term framework for risk-informed development control and engineering, based on a detailed understanding of coastal hazards and how these may evolve with future climate change. With extensive engagement of the Corozal Bay Local Tourism Committee, the project will support the economic growth of Belize and provide a framework for improved coastal risk management throughout Central America and vulnerable coasts worldwide.
Project Merit: Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts for its 2018 Massachusetts State Hazard Mitigation and Climate Action Plan (SHMCAP), a first-of-its-kind state-wide plan integrating a traditional hazard mitigation plan with a climate change adaptation plan. This integrated plan serves as an update to the Commonwealth’s 2013 State Hazard Mitigation Plan and is also driven by the governor’s Executive Order No. 569: “Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth”. The plan expands on previous State planning efforts, integrating planning elements for 14 natural hazards including changes in precipitation, sea level rise, rising temperatures, and extreme weather that alter natural hazards, increasing their severity, duration or frequency. The SHMCAP’s strategy focuses mitigation and adaptation actions across five key sectors: populations, government, built environment, natural resources and environment, and economy, involving extensive stakeholder engagement and Climate Change Coordinators across all Secretariats.
Project Merit: Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience
The City of Olympia, Washington’s capitol city, for its Sea Level Rise Response Plan. Olympia’s Plan is a first of its kind in the Puget Sound region and serves as a model for other local communities. Olympia (population 52,490) is vulnerable to flooding from the Deschutes River and Puget Sound and sea level rise will dramatically increase Olympia’s flood risk. Olympia’s downtown is the social, cultural, historic, and economic core of the city and also contains a regional wastewater treatment facility and the Port of Olympia. The City of Olympia, LOTT Clean Water Alliance, and Port of Olympia collaborated on the plan with contractor AECOM to identify near-term, mid-term, and long-term strategies to protect and adapt to rising sea levels. The Plan advocates a phased approach using adaptable infrastructure solutions and identifies key operational, governance, and informational strategies.
Project Merit: Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience
The New Zealand Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the Government of Kiribati for the Temaiku Land and Urban Development Feasibility Investigations project that is the first large scale climate change adaption development of its kind for small island nations. Kiribati, Micronesia, an island republic in the Central Pacific, is one of the world’s most economically and physically vulnerable countries, consisting of 33 low lying coral atolls across 3.5 million km2 of ocean. Of its 110,000 inhabitants, half live on the crowded capital island of South Tarawa. Tarawa’s land and people are increasingly impacted by sea level rise and the frequency of storm surge inundation. Its population is rapidly growing due to migration from the outer islands, placing pressures on natural resources, infrastructure and essential services. Project lead contractor Jacobs was commissioned by the New Zealand Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the Government of Kiribati to assess the feasibility of reclaiming 300 hectares of swampy inhabitable land, transforming it into an urban development for up to 35,000 people, resilient to predicted 2200 ocean levels. Investigations comprised coastal engineering, urban and landscape design, and environmental and social impact assessment. The team worked closely with the Government of Kiribati and through an integrated and consultative investigation and design process delivered a holistic solution focused on triple bottom line sustainability. Temaiku is the first large scale climate change adaption development of its kind for small island nations, the success of which was recognized when the President of Kiribati presented the Project at the 2017 UN Climate Change Conference, COP23, in Bonn, Germany.
Project Merit – Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience
The Hampton Roads Sanitation District (Virginia Beach, Va.) for its Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow Program. Coastal Virginia is one of the U.S. regions most at-risk of devastating climate variability effects such as flooding and sea level rise; of the 400,000+ homes in Virginia at risk for surge damage, most reside in the Hampton Roads area. Additionally, the region has been using more water than can be naturally replaced in its groundwater source, the Potomac Aquifer. In 2013, HRSD (Hampton Roads Sanitation District) engaged Jacobs to develop a conceptual design and evaluation for a ground-breaking potable reuse project, now known as SWIFT (Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow). Aimed at protecting the region’s environment, enhancing the long-term groundwater supply and helping address environmental pressures, the U.S. Water Prize award-winning SWIFT program reached a major milestone with the opening of the SWIFT Research Center in 2018. Capable of producing up to one-million-gallons per day of SWIFT Water (water meeting drinking water standards) for recharge into the Potomac Aquifer, the facility’s results will be monitored throughout 2019 to inform design criteria for the full-scale program planned to reach 100-million-gallons per day by 2030. SWIFT facilities are expected to eliminate more than 90 percent of HRSD’s discharge and help slow land sinking due to withdrawals from the Potomac Aquifer.
Project Merit: Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience
Four Twenty Seven (San Francisco, Calif.) for developing the new California Heat Assessment Tool (CHAT) that establishes local, health-based thresholds for extreme heat, helping public officials, health professionals and residents understand what changing conditions mean for them. As California’s climate warms, residents increasingly endure extreme heat events. This exacerbates existing risks and will bring new challenges for different regions, threatening the efficacy of traditional intervention strategies. Current thresholds for heat alerts are based on temperatures that exceed historical statistical thresholds rather than temperatures that impact public health. These “health-neutral” thresholds may underestimate health risks for the most sensitive populations. CHAT is an interactive online tool that informs adaptation for extreme heat and helps planners and public health practitioners prioritize actions. CHAT users can explore population-specific projections for several characteristics of extreme heat events over the coming century alongside demographic information across California, providing both a snapshot of statewide trends and granular information for each census tract. CHAT is part of California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, a state-mandated research program to assess climate change impacts in California, and was developed by Four Twenty Seven, Argos Analytics, the Public Health Institute and Habitat 7 with technical support from the California Department of Public Health.
Project Merit: Resilience
The Connecticut Department of Housing for hiring the multidisciplinary team of WSP, Arcadis, Waggonner & Ball and Yale Urban Design Workshop (YUDW) that was a winner in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition. The project, allocated $54 million, is one of 13 awarded by HUD after resilience workshops hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation (New York City at $176 million and New Orleans at $141 million were the top cities awarded, and Virginia at $121 million and Iowa at $97 million were the top states). WSP will be responsible for project management, public outreach, civil and geotechnical engineering, and environmental assessments. Arcadis’ responsibilities will include modeling and design of coastal flood structures and drainage, and environmental assessments. Waggonner & Ball, in collaboration with YUDW, will lead architecture and urban design. The design phase ran through 2018, with construction activities scheduled to begin in 2019.
Stantec Consulting Services Inc. (Edmonton, Alberta) for being selected by The City of New Orleans to provide planning, design, engineering, and community engagement for a resilience project reflecting the City’s new “living with water” approach to water management. The Blue & Green Corridors project will transform major boulevards into a network of canals and green infrastructure to reduce flood risk and subsidence while improving quality of life for residents in the Gentilly district. The project is supported by $141 million in funding awarded to New Orleans by U.S. HUD through the National Disaster Resilience Competition, as well as FEMA funds. Stantec is partnering with small local businesses, including Integrated Logistical Support Inc., Batture, Kenall, GAEA Consultants, MSMM Engineering, and Outreach Public Partners. Completion is expected at the end of 2022.
Project Merit: Flood Resilience
Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group (Montreal, Canada), for leading and providing engineering and economic analysis for the Truckee River Flood Management Project in Nevada. The company was awarded a $3.2 million design contract, which marks the first phase of the project; the overall Truckee River project is estimated at more than $400 million. Historically, flooding of the Truckee River, especially the Vista Narrows portion has caused significant damage to communities and large industrial areas. Atkins’ initial design focus on river terracing, levees and floodwalls for Vista Narrows will help minimize the levee and floodwall heights needed for other portions of the project.
Project Merit: Carbon Capture
LanzaTech (Chicago) for its a €150 million project to revolutionize the capture of blast furnace carbon emissions for global steel and mining company Arcelormittal (Luxembourg). ArcelorMittal began construction on a new installation in Ghent, Belgium to convert carbon-containing gas from its blast furnaces into bioethanol. The new concept has the potential to revolutionize how blast furnace carbon emissions are captured and to support the decarbonization of the transport sector. The technology, pioneered and licensed by LanzaTech, uses microbes that feed on carbon monoxide to produce bioethanol.
Industry Leadership: Information Sharing
AECOM (Los Angeles, Calif.) for launching the Major Infrastructure-Resource Optimisation Group, a circular economy best-practice forum for the infrastructure sector. MI-ROG aims to facilitate full Circular Economy Infrastructure-Sector (CE I-S) delivery in the UK by 2030 via a no-cost platform and information sharing safe space for infrastructure owners and operators to tackle CE challenges in infrastructure procurement, design and delivery. In 2018, MI-ROG developed and implemented a unique, multilevel approach to early-stage CE transformation performance metrics (impact, productivity, attribution, and enabler-based), critical to building institutional strength and governance. Seven entities have already logged their positions and are able to envision their CE pathway.
Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority on behalf of Victorian Water Corporations and Catchment Management Authorities and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (Victoria, Australia) and Jacobs for the water sector Catchment Carbon Offsets Trial in Australia. Victoria’s water sector contributes around 25% of greenhouse gas emissions for which the State government is responsible. Each of the State’s 19 Water Corporations has recently committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. While their primary focus is on reducing direct emissions and those associated with energy use, some Water Corporations will need to offset unavoidable emissions associated with wastewater treatment. Jacobs was engaged to work with Victoria’s water sector to undertake the Catchment Carbon Offsets Trial. The Trial explored the use of offsets to help achieve emissions reduction objectives, while providing other catchment-based environmental, social and cultural benefits complementing State or regional policies and strategies on climate change, water, catchment management and biodiversity. Concepts developed in the Trial were tested in a case study in South West Victoria. Several catchment carbon offsets designs were developed and evaluated. They showed that it would be possible to satisfy the partnering Water Corporation’s carbon offset requirements (~8000 t CO2e/y) while cost-effectively improving climate resilience, water quality, biodiversity values and recreational and cultural values. Several design and evaluation tools were developed to support collaborative implementation of the catchment carbon offset concept by Water Corporations and Catchment Management Authorities.
Consulting &Engineering Practice: Offshore Wind
Tetra Tech (Pasadena, Calif.) for its continued support in 2018 of the renewable energy market through the advancement of offshore wind energy in the United States. Tetra Tech successfully supported permitting activities for five projects under the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s offshore wind development strategy. These offshore wind projects are located on the outer continental shelf of the eastern United States and are anticipated to supply gigawatts of clean, sustainable power to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Virginia. Tetra Tech designed and executed environmental surveys and assessments as part of the siting and permitting requirements. Tetra Tech provided technical support for America’s first offshore wind farm and has continued to support 11 of the 16 offshore wind projects currently proposed for development off the East Coast—an area totaling more than a million acres.
Technology Merit: Climate Change Risk Modeling and Assessment
Jacobs for launching its Flood Cloud service for USACE’s Hydrologic Engineering Center River Analysis System (HEC-RAS) and TUFLOW, an established 1D and 2D modelling software for simulating flood and tidal flow. Flood Cloud, the first-of-its-kind solution powered by Parallel Works platform, uses “the cloud” to provide the on-demand computational resource required to deliver quicker flood risk analysis results. It enables more scenarios to be run to support smarter decisions and improved confidence in model results. Until recently, the required outputs from flood modelling were typically selected water levels and flood extents from a handful of simulations such as three return period events. Now, a much richer set of results are required, perhaps covering 10 or more annual exceedance probabilities, with various climate change scenarios and a range of flood management options with different flood defense performance assumptions. This trend towards more detailed high-resolution modelling has resulted in a step change in the computational resources needed to undertake the modelling. Flood Cloud provides an almost infinitely scalable resource pool of processors, tightly integrated within Jacobs’ industry-leading flood modelling software, enabling users across the globe to take the next step toward better flood management.
Technology Merit: Climate Change Risk Modeling and Assessment
Four Twenty Seven (San Francisco, Calif.) and GeoPhy (New York, N.Y.) for releasing the first global dataset on climate risk exposure in real estate investment trusts (REITs). REITs represent an increasingly important asset class that provides investors with a vehicle for gaining exposure to portfolios of real estate. However, real estate is also increasingly affected by risks from climate change. For example, properties exposed to sea level rise in the United States are selling at a 7% discount to those with less exposure. Four Twenty Seven applied its scoring model of asset-level climate risk exposure to GeoPhy’s database of listed REITs holdings to create the first global, scientific assessment of REITs’ exposure to climate risk. The dataset includes detailed, contextualized projections of climate impacts from floods due to extreme precipitation and sea level rise, exposure to hurricane-force winds, water stress and heat stress for over 73,500 properties owned by 321 listed REITs. This dataset can be leveraged by investors and property managers to understand portfolio risks, guide the process of choosing new REITs and inform resilience-building efforts.
Advancing Best Practices: Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Global Centre of Excellence on Climate Adaptation for launching the initiative “Advancing TCFD guidance on physical climate risk and opportunities,” building on work by the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD). Improving the quality of corporations’ climate disclosures is not just important for understanding their own risk and resilience but also critical to managing climate risks and opportunities in financial markets. Recognizing the challenges in standardizing disclosure of physical climate change risks and opportunities, the initiative involved three working groups with leaders in the financial and corporate sectors discussing metrics for physical climate risk management and disclosure; metrics for climate resilience opportunities; and climate intelligence for business strategy and financial planning. It sought to lay the foundations for a common conceptual framework and a standard set of metrics for reporting physical climate risks and opportunities. The project culminated in a conference and report building on TCFD’s recommendations and providing common foundations for the disclosure of climate-related physical risks and opportunities. It identifies where further research or market action is needed so that detailed, consistent, industry-specific guidelines can be developed on the methodology for quantifying and reporting these risks and opportunities. Four Twenty Seven and Acclimatise provided the technical secretariat that led the working groups and authored the report.
Advancing Best Practices: Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience
ICF for supporting the development, editing, and publication of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4). The NCA4 is a federally-mandated report that assesses the state of knowledge around the impacts of climate change throughout the United States. The report covers a broad array of national sectors and geographic regions, and provides a synthesis of technical climate-related research into usable and useful tools for decisionmaking. NCA4 was published 2 components: Volume I, the Climate Science Special Report, provided a summary and analysis of the state of physical climate science. Volume II, the National Climate Assessment, focused on the human welfare, societal, and environmental impacts of climate change, with particular attention paid to observed and projected risks, impacts, consideration of risk reduction, and implications under different mitigation pathways. ICF staff supported the processes of developing and implementing a risk framed approach to the assessment. Refocusing the research from technical impacts to risk faced by society allows for a broader audience to more easily use the report.
Technology Merit: Renewable Energy Natural Resource Protection
NRG Systems Inc. (Hinesburg, Vermont) for its ultrasonic Bat Deterrent System to protect wildlife around wind energy facilities. NRG Systems has spent the past three years developing a pioneering technology to support bat conservation – one of the most pressing issues facing the wind industry. A 2018 test of the company’s ultrasonic Bat Deterrent System at a wind energy facility in Texas saw a 54% reduction in overall bat fatalities, proving the System is effective for reducing mortality of certain species of bats caused by wind turbines. The System emits an ultrasonic acoustic field in the same range as bats’ natural calling frequencies. This interferes with their ability to receive and interpret their own echolocation calls and creates a disorienting airspace that is difficult to navigate. By “jamming” their echolocation systems, bats are discouraged from entering treated airspaces. In addition to protecting bats, including critically endangered species, NRG’s Bat Deterrent System could allow wind plant operators to create more renewable energy by limiting curtailment. Curtailment, which requires a reduction in energy generation, is currently the most effective technique for reducing bat take at wind turbines. NRG’s technology is poised to play a pivotal role in helping the wind industry protect the climate as well as wildlife.
Project Merit: Renewable Energy Policy Advocacy
Consulting for Health, Air, Nature & a Greener Environment LLC (CHANGE) for assisting the American Heart Association (AHA) in developing key policy levers to address air quality, including renewable portfolio standards that the AHA can embed within its advocacy portfolio over the next decade to promote lifelong health and well-being. CHANGE conducted significant research to outline the policy landscape and key opportunities for AHA positions and advocacy. CHANGE’s final report is guiding AHA advocacy efforts as it works with key partners, agencies and stakeholders at all levels of government to contribute to the adoption of renewable energy and transform air quality for a healthier planet.
Environmental Management and Planning Solutions Inc. (EMPSi, Boulder Colo.) continued building its reputation as an industry leader in sustainability, renewable energy, and climate change resilience in 2018. Notable sustainability and climate change project achievements include supporting a Department of Energy sponsored environmental analysis for an enhanced geothermal research facility in Nevada, facilitating multiple aspects of a sustainable regional water system project in New Mexico, and working with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service on several wildland fire planning and landscape resiliency projects across the West. Notably, EMPSi is in the second year of a multi-year, $3 million contract with the BLM to programmatically analyze opportunities to reduce wildfire impacts on critical Sage-Steppe vegetation communities across the Great Basin. These recent ongoing projects build on our successful completion of previous sustainability and climate change-related projects, including two regional sustainability studies in 2017. EMPSi expanded its sustainability practice team in 2018 with two new staff hires, both with backgrounds in climate change and sustainability. They will be working directly with Peter Gower, our sustainability practice lead, to initiate new sustainability, renewable energy, and climate resiliency projects in 2019, the first of which is a programmatic environmental assessment for solar energy development in southern Nevada.
SIA Solutions (Alexandria Va.) for performing Resource Efficiency Manager (REM) Services for the Air Force National Guard (ANG) supporting its renewable energy and energy resiliency projects. Support included project development and execution, energy auditing, data and reporting, and energy awareness, in addition to publicly and privately financed conservation and renewable and resilience energy projects. Services included developing third party financed projects including Energy Savings Performance Contracts and Utility Energy Service Contracts, as well as renewable energy and energy resiliency projects on vacant land and at existing facilities, such as roof-top solar and natural gas generator sets. The REMs also supported measurement and verification reporting of completed energy projects and initiatives. The REMs assisted with the ANG’s Energy Project submission for various funding programs. They arranged project financing from a variety of sources, including locally funded by the installation, ANG funded, State funded, grant funding, and third-party financing.
State Policy Initiatives
The Carbon Costs Coalition (CCC), and state legislators from nine states that formed the CCC, for understanding how best to implement a carbon price. Lawmakers from Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, in league with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL), are leading the CCC to advocate reducing carbon emissions, ensuring equity in policy proposals, developing market-based solutions, creating a resilient local economy and improving public health. Jeff Mauk, NCEL executive director says many state legislators don’t want to wait for the federal government to act on climate change. The CCC has received endorsement from the business community, with the American Sustainable Business Council stating that “Business leaders understand that climate change is a growing risk to their bottom lines. That’s why many support a carbon price as the most efficient and effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emission.”
State Policy Initiatives
The state of New York and Governor Andrew Cuomo for announcing $1.4 billion in awards for renewable energy projects in what is believed to be the single largest commitment to renewable energy by a state in U.S. history. Projects include 22 solar farms, demonstrating that large-scale solar power is now economically viable across New York State. The competitive awards, driven by the Governor’s Clean Energy Standard mandate, aim to generate enough clean, renewable energy to power more than 430,000 homes and create over 3,000 short- and long-term jobs. The Governor also formally requested an exclusion from the five-year National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program unveiled in January 2018, which proposes to make over 90% of the total offshore acreage in the United States available to oil and gas drilling. “We believe the future is a clean energy economy and New York is going to lead a counter-movement to what this administration is doing to the environment and illuminate the path forward,” Cuomo said.
Technology Merit: Solar-plus-storage
Florida Power & Light Company (FPL, Desoto County, Fla.) for unveiling a new solar-plus-storage system that it believes is the first in the country to fully integrate battery technology with a major solar power plant in a way that increases the plant’s overall energy output. With the technology deployed at the FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center, a solar power plant that was built in 2016, FPL expects to increase the amount of solar energy that the plant can deliver to the electric grid by more than half a million kilowatt-hours a year. FPL is the largest generator of solar energy in Florida with 10 major solar power plants and numerous universal solar installations, totaling more than 635 megawatts of capacity.
Technology Merit: Advanced Renewable Energy in Asia
Black & Veatch (B&V, Overland Park, Kansas) for the rapid development of its renewable energy business in Asia. Combined solar capacity additions are expected to triple in the next five years in Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand, while wind capacity additions are expected to grow five-fold in the same period, says B&V. Three countries—Taiwan, Philippines and Vietnam—are likely become the fastest growing markets for renewable energy in Asia. Mitesh Patel, new leader for B&V’s international renewable energy business concludes there is huge opportunity in implementing technologically advanced, cost competitive and bankable engineering, procurement, construction solutions. Technologies include the use of drones to reduce schedule times and cost, microgrids, and off-grid technology. A key area, says Patel, is improving the bankability of renewable energy projects through hybrid power systems that incorporate multiple sources of renewable energy with battery storage and smart distribution technology to stabilize fluctuating output from renewable energy sources.
Mergers & Acquisitions
ICF (Fairfax, Va.) for the acquisition of DMS Disaster Consultants (Boca Raton, Fla.), a disaster planning and recovery services firm, which will operate as part of ICF’s disaster management and resilience division. DMS assists public sector clients with pre-disaster services and post-disaster recovery, including the development of comprehensive insurance, risk management, and risk mitigation strategies. ICF will also get DMS’s project management software, disasTRAX. The DMS team consists of about 50 employees, including engineers, architects, adjusters, risk managers, forensic accountants and project managers.
Ameresco Inc. (Framingham, Mass.), an energy efficiency and renewable energy company, for the acquisition of TerraNavigator (La Jolla, Calif.), a developer of solar assets on environmentally impacted sites. The acquisition will expand Ameresco’s pipeline of renewable energy projects with a focus on developing assets that the company will own and operate. Ameresco expects to advance its footprint in California and the Central and Northwest United States as it continues to execute the company’s strategy in the distributed energy resource space. Ruben Fontes, formerly CEO of TerraNavigator, joins Ameresco as senior vice president of large scale distributed energy resources.
Clearway Energy Group (San Francisco, Calif.) for the acquisition of SunPower‘s utility-scale solar project pipeline totaling 4.7 gigawatts across 16 states. Clearway was formed in 2018 by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). SunPower has committed to distributed generation and has stated that the firm is pivoting away from a mature utility market to an emerging distributed solar market where it can more like a solar energy services company. Also in 2018, in a $1.3 billion deal, GIP acquired NRG Energy’s renewable energy business, including NRG’s controlling interest in its renewable energy development platform, its 2.4-gigawatt operations and maintenance business and NRG Yield, which holds a portfolio of wind, solar and natural-gas generation with an operating capacity of 5.1 gigawatts. Clearway is now one of the largest clean energy developers in the U.S., with assets that include 2.8 gigawatts of wind, 1.1 gigawatts of utility PV and more than 300 megawatts of distributed and community solar. Clearway also has an 8.9-gigawatt development pipeline and provides O&M and asset management for 4.1 gigawatts of renewable power.
Global Atlantic Financial Group (Los Angeles Calif.) for acquiring a one-third stake in Southern Power’s portfolio of 26 operating solar facilities (total 1.8 GW of capacity), in a $1.2 billion deal. As a provider of retirement products and insurance, Global Atlantic is a good representation of risk-averse capital or conservative investors buying in to renewable energy, particularly in portfolios of existing projects which offer stable cash flows. Southern Power will act as the general partner and maintain overall operational responsibility for the projects, 12 of which are in the 100-300 MW range, although 10 are 30 MW or smaller. Global Atlantic also acquired a minority stake in Florida-based utility-scale solar developer Origis Energy.
Alberta Investment Management Corp. (AIMCo, Calgary, Alberta) for acquiring a majority stake in Spanish renewable power producer Eolia Renovables de Inversiones SCR SA. AIMCo is buying the shares from Oaktree Capital Management and other shareholders for $1.6 billion. Eolia Renovables holds 669 MW of onshore wind and solar photovoltaic capacity through 38 assets. The large portfolio of renewables with long-term revenues are contracted under the Spanish regulatory regime, and Eolia has a pipeline of development opportunities in Spain.
Green Plains Inc. (Omaha, Neb.) for selling three of its ethanol plants to Valero Renewable Fuels Company for $319 million in cash. The transaction was largely financially driven, with Green Plains stating that the deal “demonstrates our commitment to strengthening our balance sheet and unlocking value for our shareholders.” The transaction includes ethanol plants located in Bluffton, Ind., Lakota, Iowa, and Riga, Mich. which represented 20% of the company’s ethanol production capacity. Through subsidiaries, Valero owns 11 ethanol plants in the Mid-Continent region of the United States, with a combined production capacity of 1.4 billion gallons per year.