Given the right market conditions and incentives, a thriving solar industry can arise even in a seemingly unlikely area. Take North Carolina for example. Prior to the passage of its Renewable Portfolio Standard in 2008, only a truly savvy observer would have been able to predict the state’s upcoming solar boom. To stay ahead of the next emerging market, one must be able to read the tea leaves. We at Energy Acuity pride ourselves in being able to provide that level of insight. In that spirit, let’s take a look at five companies who are poised to be major players in the nascent solar industry of America’s southernmost states.
Already boasting one of the industry’s most expansive and impressive development pipelines, it should come as little surprise that Cypress Creek Renewables has shifted some of their focus towards the South’s burgeoning solar markets. In particular, CCR has targeted South Carolina, where Energy Acuity has identified their involvement in 17 solar projects ranging in size from 4 to 20 MW, for a total capacity just north of 175 MW. A pair of projects in Bishopville, SC, (Bishopville I and II, 10 and 20 MW respectively) highlight the portfolio, which also contains three solar projects in Pelion, SC (Swamp Fox – 10.88 MW, Champion Solar – 10.88 MW, Odyssey Solar – 8.16 MW). Cypress Creek’s South Carolina pipeline includes some other notable projects, such as a 15 MW Olanta Solar project in Sumter, SC, the aptly named 20 MW Cameron Solar in Cameron, SC, and a 10 MW Wix Solar project in Dillon, SC, just to name a few. Having clearly displayed their mastery in project development and acquisition in North Carolina, Cypress Creek Renewables looks to leverage that success in neighboring South Carolina, and has already begun to distance itself from competitors in the state.
A close analysis of the companies initiating utility-scale PV projects in the South reveals an obvious trend: the most successful project developers of North Carolina’s solar industry will soon ply their trade in South Carolina. Asheville-based FLS Energy certainly fits that description. The veteran group of developers rose to prominence as North Carolina’s solar market grew, and they now plan to put that experience to use in South Carolina. To that effect, FLS Energy currently has plans for six projects in the state, totaling close to 50 MW. That suite of projects features three-10 MW proposals: two in Marion County and one in Barnwell County (Marion Farms Solar, Ebbie Solar, and St. Paul Solar respectively). Their portfolio also consists of Addidas Solar (8.5 MW, Eutawville, SC), Cherokee Solar (5 MW, Gaffney, SC), and Ellis Ferry Solar (6 MW, Gaffney, SC). After developing over 100 solar projects in North Carolina, FLS Energy has positioned itself to also become one of South Carolina’s prominent solar developers.
Another of North Carolina’s most prolific project originators, Innovative Solar Systems looks to build on its success by also expanding their business into South Carolina. Employing their typically inscrutable project nomenclature, ISS has proposed five projects in the state, each 20 MW: Innovative Solar 84, 85, 93, 96, and 97. That 100 MW of potential solar capacity spans Allendale County (IS 84), Calhoun County (IS 85), and Bamberg County (IS 93, 96, 97). Given their track record of high-volume project development, the Energy Acuity team expects to discover more Innovative Solar System proposals in South Carolina and other Southern states in the near future.
National Renewable Energy Corporation (NARENCO)
When discussing the budding Southern solar industry, the conversation will inevitably gravitate towards South Carolina and its on-going emergence as the region’s hottest market. But allowing the discourse to stop there would be a mistake, and NARENCO’s 100+ MW pipeline in Florida provides strong evidence to that effect. With nine project in proposals in nearly as many counties, NARENCO could quickly become the state’s premier solar developer if they maintain this pace. Embracing the oceanic qualities of the Sunshine State, NARENCO’s Floridian projects include a 10 MW Snapper Solar project in Perry, a 6.25 MW Sunfish Solar project in Sebring, and a 6.25 MW Tilapia Solar project in Bushnell, just to name a few.
In addition to their pioneering efforts in Florida, NARENCO has no plans to miss out on a potential South Carolina boom. Jockeying for position in South Carolina’s soon-to-be (if-not-already) crowded utility interconnection queues, NARENCO’s most noteworthy solar project in the state would have to be its 87.82 MW Lily Solar project in Martin, SC. That’s just one of their 10 proposed South Carolina projects, as NARENCO has also initiated plans for a 58 MW Magnolia solar project, an 83 MW Peony solar project, and a 12.96 MW Sunflower Solar project in Kingstree, SC. All told, NARENCO sports a very respectable 300+ MW pipeline in the two states.
The end of 2015 saw the beginning of a promising new solar development group, Southern Current. The product of the merger of Kent Towbridge’s Solbridge Energy and Paul Fleury’s Sustainable Energy Solutions, Southern Current seems uniquely situated to capitalize on the South’s flourishing solar appetite. Working out of Charleston, Southern Current’s proposals in South Carolina comprise of a 10-project, 20 MW pipeline spread across the state. That portfolio is mainly composed of 2 MW projects, including Bani Solar in Olanta, SC, Clark Solar in Little Rock, SC, and Pee Dee Solar Farms I and II, respectively located in Dillon and Hamer, SC. While Southern Current currently has the most modest pipeline of these featured companies, their executive team possesses the expertise that could allow them to challenge the South’s major project developers.
Outside of South Carolina and Florida, a number of companies have some major solar projects in development in the South that we would be remiss to exclude. To start, NextEra Energy Resources’ 81 MW Stuttgart Solar project in Arkansas could be the tip of the iceberg in that state, as the Energy Acuity team has its eyes on nine other early-stage interconnection requests in Arkansas totaling a substantial 731 MW. Georgia appears to be another potential hotbed, with over 200 MW of pre-construction solar identified in the state associated with Captial Power Corporation, Georgia Power, Silicon Ranch Corporation, Inovateus Solar, and AES Distributed Energy. Strata Solar and Origis Energy both have proposed 50 MW solar projects in Mississippi. Let’s not ignore Virginia, where Coronal Development Services has three ~20 MW projects in development, in addition to each of Dominion and SunEnergy1’s 20 MW Virginia proposals. Finally, it’s worth mentioning Louisiana, which, much like Arkansas, now hosts a number of large-scale, early-stage solar interconnection requests for a combined capacity of 650+ MW.
** This blog contains links to watered-down examples of the intelligence Energy Acuity tracks within company and project profiles within our databases. Subscribers can view the complete profiles by logging into the platform.
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