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Orsted has taken a final investment decision on its largest onshore project to date, the 518 MW hybrid wind and solar PV project, Helena Energy Center, with an expected operational date in the first half of 2022.
The project expands Orsted’s onshore portfolio to Bee County, South Texas. The hybrid nature of the project allows Orsted to maximise the use of the excellent location, in a highly liquid market, on a primary transmission import path into the San Antonio load centre and in an area characterised by strong coastal winds and sunshine.
The Helena Energy Center consists of 268 MW Helena Wind and 250 MWAC solar PV Sparta Solar, and has secured contracts with multiple corporate offtakers including Henkel for a portion of the wind generation and Target for a portion of the solar generation.
As part of the Helena Energy Center project, the company is partnering with the Texas Native Seeds Program, a non-profit research and development program of Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M – Kingsville, to research the optimal seed mix and planting process to grow native grasses under a portion of the solar project. Potential benefits include lower operational costs, enhanced biodiversity to attract pollinators, lower erosion, and production improvements by lowering the ambient temperature.
Orsted is building at scale and ranked among the top five US constructors in terms of capacity additions in 2020. The project takes Orsted’s onshore operational and under construction portfolio to 4 GW, a portfolio that is both geographically and technologically diverse, spanning Texas, the Midwest, and Southeast US across wind, solar, and storage.
With the significant portfolio growth over the coming years, Orsted’s US energy trading team, up to now part of the company’s Markets business unit, has been integrated into Orsted’s onshore business, strengthening the ability for Orsted to manage risk more dynamically. Ben Pratt has been appointed to lead the Chicago-based team and joins the Onshore management team which continues to be headed by Onshore CEO Declan Flanagan.
“We’ve quickly become one of the largest constructors of new wind and solar in the US, and having world-class capabilities in all facets of energy markets is central to our ambitious growth plans,” said Declan Flanagan, Executive Vice President & CEO Onshore at Ørsted. The integration of our Chicago-based trading team under Ben’s leadership further sharpens our focus and execution capability,” continued Flanagan.
Previously, Ben served as Senior Managing Director with Uniper Global Commodities (formerly E.On), and has extensive background managing portfolio risk across the entire power market complex.