Edwards & Sanborn Solar and Energy Storage Project, USA – Power Technology

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The Edwards & Sanborn solar and energy storage project is located in Kern County, California, US. Credit: Adam Bowles/ Official United States Air Force.

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The facility consists of more than 1.9 million solar panels. Credit: Adam Bowles/ Official United States Air Force.

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The Edwards & Sanborn project is one of the largest solar-plus-storage projects in North America. Credit: Terra-Gen.

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The project commenced full commercial operations in January 2024. Credit: Terra-Gen.

The Edwards & Sanborn project is a combination of a solar and energy storage facility in southern Kern County, California, US.

Developed by Terra-Gen, the project represents the largest private-public partnership with the Department of Defence and is currently North America’s largest single solar and battery energy storage project.

It was developed in two phases, with the first phase consisting of 345MW of solar and 1,505MWh of battery storage and the second phase involving 410MWac of solar (358MWac at the point of interconnection) and 1,786MWh of battery storage. The investment was $804m and $959m respectively for the first and second phases.

The facility is capable of powering approximately 971,000 homes for about four hours on a single charge.

Site construction commenced in the first quarter of 2021. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was celebrated in February 2023. The Edwards & Sanborn project started full commercial operations in January 2024. The facility is projected to have an operational life of 35 years.

Location details of the Edwards & Sanborn project

The solar facility is situated at the north-west corner of Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), approximately 9.6km north-east of the community of Rosamond and south of Mojave, in Kern County, California.

Occupying more than 4,660 acres, the project is strategically placed on both private land and land leased from Edwards AFB.

It’s the largest public-private collaboration in the history of the US Department of Defence.

Edwards & Sanborn solar and energy storage project details

The Edwards & Sanborn solar and energy storage facility boasts 807MW of solar power and more than 3GWh of battery storage.

With about two million solar and 120,720 battery modules, the facility has a significant capacity to contribute to the California Independent System Operator grid.

The grid is capable of powering more than 238,000 homes and is expected to displace more than 320,000tpa of CO₂ emissions.

The solar array is noteworthy as the largest project of its kind in the history of the US Air Force, which anticipates the project could generate cash rent consideration exceeding $75.8m over the 35-year lease period.

In total, the project produces 875MWdc of peak solar energy and has 3,287MWh of energy storage, with a total interconnection capacity of 1.3GW. It supplies power to a diverse range of clients, including the city of San Jose, Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, the Clean Power Alliance, and Starbucks.

The project’s infrastructure includes 157.7km (98 miles) of medium-voltage wire and 581km (361 miles) of DC cabling.

Additionally, the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system is equipped with meteorological stations, networking equipment, and a dynamic loss compensation system to meet the requirements of power purchase agreements.

Financing for Edwards & Sanborn energy project

Financing for phase one was secured through $804m senior secured credit facilities, including a $400m construction and term loan facility, a $328m tax equity bridge facility, and a $76m construction and revolving letter of credit facility.

Latham & Watkins, an American multinational law firm, represented Terra-Gen in the transaction while Milbank, a premier international law firm, represented Deutsche Bank and the commercial bank lenders.

Deutsche Bank, a leading financial services provider, led the construction and term financing, and JPMorgan, an American multinational financial institution, provided the tax equity commitment for the initial phase.

The financing for the second phase involved a $959m senior secured credit facility comprising a $460m construction and term loan facility, a $403m tax equity bridge facility, and a $96m construction and revolving letter of credit facility. The tax equity commitment for the project was provided by the US Bank, with BNP Paribas, CoBank, ING, and Nomura Securities leading the construction and term financing.

In January 2024, independent portfolio management firm Axium Infrastructure (Axium), via one of its managed funds, announced an additional investment in the Edwards Sanborn facilities. The company also invested in the project in October 2022.

Power purchase agreement (PPA) details

LevelTen Energy entered a novel agreement with Terra-Gen to virtually procure 5.5MW of battery storage capacity and 24MW of solar energy from the project, in December 2020.

Contractors involved

US-based family-owned construction company Mortenson Construction was appointed as the full engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor for the solar and energy storage components of the project.

First Solar, a prominent solar technology firm based in the US, provided the solar modules. Batteries were procured from renowned manufacturers LG Chem, Samsung, and BYD.

Trimark, a utilities company that offers operational control and regulatory compliance services, was selected to manage the SCADA portion of the project in February 2021. The scope of work included delivering complex metering solutions, including CAISO-compliant revenue meters, under a separate contract with Electrical Consultants.

Dudek, an environmental and engineering consulting firm, was engaged in technical studies, pre-construction desert tortoise clearance surveys, and an environmental impact report (EIR).

In September 2021, Solas Energy Consulting was engaged to provide construction and project management services for the project.

Luminate, a management consultancy, acted as an independent engineer for the Edwards & Sanborn solar and energy storage project.

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