Fifth Third Bank Paves the Way for Construction of 80 Megawatt Solar Farm with Landmark Virtual Power Purchase Agreement
The number of US corporations investing in and deploying their own solar energy systems continues to grow. That includes some of the most familiar corporate and brand names. Visa recently announced it has set a 2019 goal of sourcing all the electricity it consumes from renewable resources. Amazon recently gave a tour of its latest rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) power project, a 3.8 megawatt-DC (MWdc) system that spans 23 acres (9.3-hectare) of rooftop space at its fulfillment center in Tracy, California.
A regional US bank with a 150-plus year history and 142 billion in assets, Cincinnati, Ohio-based Fifth Third Bank is going solar in a big, novel way. Management recently announced it is effectively financing construction of a US200 million, 80 megawatt (MW) solar power farm in North Carolina by agreeing to purchase, or rather virtually purchase, all the solar power the renewable energy farm can produce.
Fifth Third’s virtual power purchase agreement (PPA) is notable in at least a few other ways. Fifth Third is the first Fortune 500 company and the first bank to agree to purchase what amounts to 100 percent of the entire organization’s electricity needs from a single solar power project. The bank has also joined RE100, whose growing roster of organizations have committed to meeting all their electricity needs via renewable energy resources. Solar Magazine spoke with Fifth Third Banks’ Director of Environmental Sustainability Scott Hassell to gain and share insight into the bank’s landmark virtual solar PPA.
A Bold Commitment
According to the terms of the virtual solar power purchase agreement, Fifth Third Bank will purchase 100 percent of the emissions-free, renewable energy to be produced by the 80 MW Hertford County Aulander Holloman solar photovoltaic (PV) farm, which is owned, designed and will be built by Mooresville, North Carolina-based SunEnergy1. Groundbreaking for the 200 million project is tentatively slated to take place this month.
Some 1,000 workers will be employed during the solar farm’s construction. It’s expected to produce approximately 194,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) per year of clean, renewable energy. That’s enough to meet all the electricity needs of Fifth Third Bank’s operations, which span 1,154 banking centers in 10 US states. An estimated 144,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year – the equivalent of that produced by 21,600 average homes or 30,800 passenger vehicles – will be avoided as a result, Fifth Third highlights in a press release.
“This initiative affirms our bold commitment to advance environmental stewardship on behalf of customers, employees and shareholders,” said Greg Carmichael, chairman, president CEO, Fifth Third Bancorp. “This innovative project will reduce Fifth Third’s carbon footprint and benefit the communities we serve. In addition, this project is expected to increase earnings, demonstrating that companies can ‘do well by doing good.’”
SunEnergy1 has built a name for itself as a leader developer of corporate and institutional solar power purchase agreements. “This is the first time that we have seen a corporation move to 100 percent clean power by purchasing all of the output from one project,” CEO Kenny Habul pointed out.
“Fifth Third has worked for years to become more sustainable by using energy more efficiently and by lending to the solar energy industry,” Hassell stated for the press release. The bank launched its environmental sustainability program about eight years ago.
Renewable energy and environmental sustainability
Publicly disclosing its first set of sustainability goals in June 2017, Fifth Third is aiming to realize 25 percent reductions in energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water usage and landfill waste by 2022, Hassel explained in an interview.
Significantly, signing of the virtual solar PPA also puts Fifth Third Bank in position to achieve its 100 percent renewable energy goal this year, four years ahead of schedule, he pointed out.
Coincident with announcing the virtual solar PPA, Fifth Third joined RE100, a corporate renewable energy leadership initiative led by The Climate Group in partnership with the Carbon Disclosure Project and Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center. “What we really want to do is tell our story and get other companies involved and have a bigger impact. We can move towards these renewable energy technologies today, and that leads to new investments that benefit our customers and the communities in which we do business,” Hassell told Solar Magazine.
“I think what’s exciting here is that we’re using our purchasing power to accelerate the shift to renewables and contributing to the transformation of the power grid. Unlocking a 200 million solar power project, and all the benefits that will bring, is pretty exciting. It’s gratifying to purchase 100 percent of the power produced from this project.”
“They [SolarEnergy1] can take this contract to a bank, get a loan and once the project is completed, generate electricity and sell it into North Carolina’s regulated electricity market at prevailing market prices,” he said.
Virtual Power Purchase Agreements: How they work
Fifth Third Bank won’t necessarily consume the power produced by the Hertford County Aulander Holloman solar farm. The solar farm’s output will be dispatched to the North Carolina power grid, which is part of the PJM regional system operator’s (RSO) service territory.
As per the terms of the virtual solar power PPA, Fifth Third will be paid, or will be obligated to pay, the difference between the guaranteed purchase price of electricity set out in the contract and prevailing electricity market in North Carolina, Hassell explained.
“This is a virtual power purchase agreement. By signing that contract, we are guaranteeing the project a revenue stream. They wouldn’t be able to build without that contract,” Hassell noted.
Fifth Third will also own the solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) that result. SRECs, which essentially monetize the value of solar power production, can be sold on secondary markets. The bank intends to retire the SRECs it winds up owning, however. “We’re retaining these SRECs and retiring them because we think it’s the right thing to do,” Hassell said.
“The purchase of 100 percent of the output of this solar farm – which will be one of the largest of its kind in the country – and ownership of the SRECs is what makes this project unique and groundbreaking. We’re doing it all with one project, and it’s all solar.” comment
Hecate Energy arranges landmark 550 million debt facility
The financing with ten commercial banks is funding a vast multi-year pipeline of 35 GW solar and storage assets.
Hecate Johanna 1 2 Energy Storage (20 MW) facilities in Santa Ana, Calif.
Hecate Energy, a Chicago-based renewable energy project developer, closed a five-year 550 million debt facility package from ten lenders. The facility consists of a 250 million term loan and 300 million letter of credit that will be collateralized by the developer’s 35 GW multi-year development pipeline and its minority interest in storage business Hecate Grid, a joint venture between Hecate Energy and InfraRed Capital Partners.
Investec, Nomura Securities and National Bank of Canada led the debt financing, with Deutsche Bank and Generate Capital also coordinating lead arrangers. PEI Global Partners was Hecate’s financial advisor on the landmark transaction. Norton Rose Fulbright represented the lender group.
Proceeds from the loan refinanced an existing loan facility at a lower cost to Hecate, and the letters of credit facility enable Hecate to issue numerous grid interconnection and power purchase agreement letters of credit to achieve sales of 5 GW or more per year across its asset portfolio.
“Securing the letter of credit of this size against a pure play renewables developer’s active project development pipeline has never been done before,” Chris Bullinger, chief executive officer of Hecate Energy, told pv magazine USA. “This innovative debt facility package indicates a high degree of market confidence in Hecate Energy’s strong track record of successful renewables development.”
“We are leveraging our global financial and intellectual capital to provide funding and tailored financing solutions to companies like Hecate Energy, who are helping to fuel the energy transition,” said Vinod Mukani, global head of Nomura’s infrastructure and power group. “Executing on this transaction is particularly exciting as Hecate Energy retains an experienced and talented team and an attractive business strategy which we are happy to support.”
Hecate Grid was formed in 2018 as a joint venture between Hecate Energy and InfraRed Capital. The business currently has an active portfolio of 5 GW of storage projects in various phases of development. Besides Texas and California, where it has 1.15 GW and 1.95 GW procured for development, respectively, the developer has projects in the works in New York, where its Swiftsure Energy Storage (650 MW) project in Staten Island remains in active development, according to a NYISO interconnection queue update.
Hecate Energy was formed in 2012 and in May 2021 received a minority investment by Repsol, a Spanish energy company, which acquired a 40% interest in the developer. With 1.5 GW of active or development-stage solar and wind projects, Hecate Energy is consistently named a top ten US developer.
The company is building the largest solar project in New York, the 500 MW Cider Solar Farm. Located on 3,000 acres in the towns of Elba and East Oakfield, N.Y., part of National Grid’s service territory, it received a permit from the N.Y. Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) in July 2022 to build the project. Construction is on track to take place this year with 495 construction workers engaged in the construction.
Cider Solar is the first solar project application to receive approval under New York’s new Section 94-c law, which was designed to implement new solar projects.
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Michael joined pv magazine USA in November 2022. He has been reporting on the United States solar, distributed energy, power and utility markets since 2014 and previously reported on MA, private equity and energy technology start-up companies for corporate finance news publications.
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Anker RE Charge Running at Full Power at Multi-brand Product Unveiling Event in NYC
Anker Innovations Launches Best-in-Class Products From Anker Charging, eufy Clean, soundcore and Nebula Brands
NEW YORK. June 13, 2023 /PRNewswire/.- Anker Innovations, a global leader in consumer technology products, today unveiled new landmark products from the Anker charging, eufy Clean, soundcore and Nebula brands during the Anker RE Charge event in New York City.
ANKER TAKES THE LEAD ON CHARGING FASTER
Anker, the world’s #1 mobile charging brand, today unveiled several products focused on charging devices faster, including the new Anker Prime series. This lineup of premium high-speed, multi-port devices is headlined by the new 67-watt, 100-watt and 240-watt USB-C chargers, as well as the Anker Prime 250-watt power bank.- an ultra-high-capacity (27,000 mAh) power bank featuring a 100-W wireless charging base. Retail availability and pricing for these Anker Prime charging accessories are slated to be released in July 2023.
In addition, Anker officially launched the Anker Reserve Power Bank, a perfect accessory for the great outdoors, featuring a 60,000 mAh LiFeP04 battery, two USB-C and two USB-A ports, as well as a standard XT 60 solar plug compatible with solar panels ranging from 10-24 volts. The Anker Reserve also features a pop-up, adjustable light source. perfect for a campsite or backyard BBQ.
The Anker Reserve Power Bank is available for sale today on Anker.com for 169.99
SOUNDCORE INTRODUCES NEW EARBUDS WITH ADVANCED NOISE CANCELLATION SYSTEM
soundcore, the premium audio brand of Anker Innovations, today launched the next generation of Liberty True Wireless Stereo (TWS) earbuds, the Liberty 4 NC featuring Adaptive ANC 2.0 technology.
These new earbuds leverage the sound quality of the flagship Liberty line, but now allow users to shift seamlessly from a quiet setting to a noisy environment, blocking out up to 98.5% of external noise. Adaptive ANC 2.0 utilizes both in-ear and external sound sensors that analyze and adjust instantaneously, for both the external environment and the user’s ear canal in real-time, providing a superior noise cancellation experience.
Additionally, these earbuds offer 10 hours of playtime and an astonishing 50 hours of playtime with the wireless charging case, utilize an 11mm driver and support LDAC decoding for the highest quality audio.
The Liberty 4 NC is currently slated to begin shipping on June 29 for 99.99 with additional incentives for consumers on the website until launch day. They will be available in five colors on soundcore.com, amazon.com and other retail channels.
NEBULA INTRODUCES LONG LASTING OUTDOOR PROJECTOR. NOW ON PRESALE
Nebula, Anker Innovations’ Smart entertainment brand today introduced the first true outdoor projector, the Mars 3 1080p LED portable projector. With its 185 WH battery, users can either choose the brightest picture at 1000 ANSI Lumens or the longest lasting movie watching experience of up to five hours.
In addition, the projector can access the built-in Smart AI system to analyze the environment around it and determine the optimal brightness level to use.
Other notable features include IPX3 water and dust resistance, a handy lens cover that doubles as an adjustable foot to raise up the front of the projector, auto FOCUS, auto keystone correction and auto fit to make setup a breeze.
Using Android TV 11, users can stream all of their favorite content from over 7,000 apps, Chromecast or the built-in HDMI port.
The Mars 3 will be available for pre-order on seenebula.com starting today with a 200 early bird discount that lasts until July 10. The Mars 3 will have a standard retail price of 1099.99 online and in select retail channels.
eufy Clean, a Smart appliances brand from Anker Innovations, today officially launched the X9 Pro robotic vacuum and mop. The X9 Pro offers an unrivaled multi-surface cleaning experience for every type of flooring including hard wood, tile, laminate, carpet and rugs.
The new Hands-Free MopMaster system includes an industry leading 12-millimeter Auto Lift with carpet detection feature, allowing it to raise its mopping pads to intelligently switch between carpets and hard floors. The MopMaster system also boasts dynamic dual high-pressure, high-speed rotational mopping pads to effortlessly clean even the toughest messes, from crayons and markers, to stubborn food stains. The MopMaster system keeps hands clean and odors at bay with its auto-wash feature. While in mop mode, the X9 Pro will periodically return to its base to self-clean its mopping pads, ensuring consistent and thorough cleaning from start to finish. When the cleaning job is fully completed, the X9 Pro will return to its base and then clean and dry itself, ensuring the vacuum and cleaning pads always remain clean and odorless.
The X9 Pro also features powerful (yet quiet) 5,500 Pa suction to remove debris in one pass and AI.See Smart obstacle avoidance, to detect and dodge obstacles with ease.
The X9 Pro will be available for purchase on June 29 on eufy.com and amazon.com for 899.99. Customers can opt to pay 10 now to receive a coupon for 180 off once the product goes on sale.
EUFY SECURITY ADDS COMPATIBILITY WITH DUAL DOORBELL CAM VIDEO Smart LOCK FOR EUFYCAM 3 WITH BIONIC MIND.
eufy Security, Anker Innovations’ Smart security brand, today announced full compatibility between HomeBase 3 and the Video Doorbell Dual and Video Smart Lock.
Introduced last year at Anker On Board, Homebase 3 serves as the heart and brain of the edge ecosystem and centralizes all of the user’s eufy Security devices within a single hub.
HomeBase 3 delivers advanced BionicMind AI facial and body recognition capabilities to filter out arrival notifications of friends and family and send accurate alerts when a stranger approaches the user’s property. HomeBase 3 also offers up to 16 terabytes of expandable local storage with no monthly fees and can send daily security briefs to the user through the eufy Security app.
HomeBase 3 is on track to achieve full compatibility with many other devices by the end of the year, including the eufy Security lineup of floodlight cameras, indoor cameras and wired outdoor cameras. Click here for the updated compatibility schedule.
ANKERMAKE ANNOUNCES TIMING FOR V-6 COLOR ENGINE UPGRADE
AnkerMake, Anker Innovations’ 3D printing brand, today announced the upcoming V6 Color Engine will go into production beginning in September with plans to begin shipping in October. Once installed, the V6 will allow makers to print with as many as six different colors on a single creation.
Last year, with the help of a record-breaking crowdfunding campaign, AnkerMake introduced the company’s very first 3D printer, the M5. Over the past year, the AnkerMake engineering team has been making constant improvements to the built-in A.I. camera monitoring. This preventative system was designed to spot common printing errors, such as first-layer adhesion issues, and then automatically pause the printing, and inform the user.
Thanks to collaboration with the AnkerMake community, the M5 can now recognize common printer issues with more than 90-percent accuracy. For more information on the M5 and V6 Color Engine, visit AnkerMake.com.
ANKER EXPANDS INTO THE HOME ENERGY SOLUTIONS BUSINESS WITH LAUNCH OF ANKER SOLIX
The new Anker Solix brand includes a line of solar balcony solutions designed for apartments and modular solar battery storage systems for the home. Additionally, Anker’s popular portfolio of portable power stations (formerly known as PowerHouse) will now be part of Anker Solix. Please visit anker.com/anker-solix/power-solutions to learn more.
About Anker Innovations
Anker Innovations is a global leader in mobile charging and a developer of unique consumer products that support premium audio, mobile entertainment, and the emerging Smart home space. This includes its brands Anker, AnkerMake, AnkerWork, Eufy, Nebula, Soundcore and its new home energy solutions brand, Anker Solix. information on Anker Innovations and its various brands can be found at Anker.com.
For product images, please click here
To request a product sample, please contact:
Mary Woodbury (Anker Charging / eufy Clean) // Mary.Woodbury@Anker.com
Adam Weissman (soundcore Nebula) // Adam.weissman@Anker.com
Brett White (eufy Security) // Brett.White@Anker.com
Connie Liu (AnkerMake) // Connie.Liu@Anker.com