A deal to supply a 200-megawatt solar plant in Southern California marks a major breakthrough for China’s Yingli Solar.
Yingli has been doing business in the United States for several years, but just started establishing itself in the utility-scale solar sector in 2011, said Matthew Sachs, Yingli Americas director of business development.
The company announced this week that it won a contract to supply solar photovoltaic modules for the 200-megawatt Centinela Project. It’s the largest project Yingli has signed on to supply so far in its history.
“This deal, as well as some others that will likely be announced soon, are significant,” Sachs said.
Yingli Solar had been working on securing this project for several years, Sachs said. 2011 was the companies first substantial year in the utility space. It spent 2012 establishing its utility presence.
“I think 2013 is going to be a great year for utility-scale solar in general,” Sachs said. “And I think Yingli is going to be a big part of that scene.”
The Investment Tax Credit is set to expire in 2016, which means companies need to build out before then. Since major utility-scale projects like the Centinela project take time to approve and build, 2013 will likely be a big year for companies and communities that want to build utility-scale solar projects under the wire.
The Centinela project will produce enough electricity to power 60,000 homes. It’s one of the biggest projects in the country. “I do think you’ll see projects trump this one in size,” Sachs said. “Projects like this will prove the concept and people will get comfortable with it.”
He said utility-scale PV is likely to continue growing. It’s hard to say what the impact of the expiring tax credit could be. If Congress doesn’t address it, development will probably slow. But, it’s unlikely it would stop. “One of the biggest drivers is price,” Sachs said. “As the price of solar keeps coming down, more and more of these projects are being built.”