Abu Dhabi's Masdar expands presence in US with stakes in 8 projects

The renewable energy firm will develop projects in wind, solar and battery technology with EDF Renewables North America

Dumat Al Jandal - For Illustration Purposes Only. Courtesy Masdar
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Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy firm Masdar is set to expand its clean energy portfolio in the US after acquiring stakes in eight projects being developed by EDF Renewables North America unit.

The renewable energy firm's second investment in the US will see it acquire 50 per cent stakes in three utility-scale wind energy farms in Nebraska and Texas, which have a combined capacity of 815 megawatts.

Under the deal, Masdar will also acquire 50 per cent shareholding in five solar photovoltaic plants in California, two of which include battery energy storage systems, and will add 689MW of solar and 75MW of lithium-ion battery storage capacities.

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020 pending regulatory approvals.

“As the second-largest renewable energy producer in the world in terms of installed power capacity, the US offers considerable scope for further growth and diversification of our renewable energy portfolio,” said Masdar chief executive Mohamed Al Ramahi.

The acquisition follows Masdar’s earlier foray in the US in 2019, when it acquired a 50 per cent interest in two wind farms in Texas and New Mexico.

Under the new deal with EDF Renewables, two of the wind projects are located in Texas and the third is in Nebraska. All three are currently under construction and expected to begin commercial operations in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The Californian solar and battery plants are also under construction and are set to be completed by year-end. A Kern County-based solar PV and battery storage scheme, with 166MW and 40MW capacities respectively, is expected to begin commercial operations in 2021, Masdar said.

The renewable power generated at the eight wind and solar plants will be sold under long-term contracts to a number of offtakers, including utilities, hedge providers as well as community choice aggregators, the company said.

"This deal writes a new chapter of co-operation between our two companies focused on the North American market," said Tristan Grimbert, president and chief executive of EDF Renewables North America. "I would like to highlight the exceptional quality of work for both the Masdar and EDF Renewables North America teams over the last year to execute this transaction in particularly troubled times,”

Bank of America Securities acted as the financial adviser to Masdar for the deal.

Masdar has seen project activity pick up in the UAE despite the pandemic-induced slowdown in economic activity in the energy industry. In July, the company in consortium with Abu Dhabi's Taqa, France's EDF and JinkoPower won the bid to develop a 2GW solar power plant in Abu Dhabi.
Once fully operational, the plant will increase Abu Dhabi's solar power capacity to approximately 3.2GW.

The UAE is diversifying its energy mix and turning to renewable and nuclear energy as it looks to free up hydrocarbons for export markets and generate up to 44 per cent of its energy from clean sources by 2050.