By: Michael Schoeck
Matrix Renewables, a private equity-backed renewable energy developer, announced the completion and financing of the Gaskell West 2 and 3 solar-plus-storage projects located in Kern County, California, the first U.S. project construction for the Madrid-based company.
The project includes 140 MWdc (104 MWac) of solar energy plus 80 MWh energy storage systems. The projects are fully contracted, holding five long term power purchase agreements (PPA) with utilities and cities in California. The projects provide enough clean power for 18,000 California households.
One of the first 20-year PPAs was signed in 2017 with Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) for 45MWac of the project’s capacity. This was the first PPA signed by BART under its Wholesale Electricity Portfolio Policy, which requires 100% of BART’s power to come from renewable sources by 2045.
The project is on a site that extends from Kern County into Los Angeles County, California, providing additional flexibility for land use, said Jesse Salveson, director of project management, Matrix Renewables. Construction on the solar-plus-storage facilities took 9 months and reached commercial operations on May 5, 2023.
Rosendin Electric served as the project’s sub-contractor and employed 425 construction workers from local unions in Kern County, Calif., during peak construction.
The solar project uses modules from Risen Energy, power controls and balancing equipment from Shoals Technologies.
The storage system makes use of BYD’s Cube Pro (2.5 MWh) liquid-cooled battery modules and Canadian Solar’s CSI Energy Storage (2.8 MWh) systems, according to a video clip for the facility’s construction. The integrated storage solution includes the supply, installation, and commission of the battery system. In addition, CSI will support the battery storage system with capacity and performance guarantees, ensuring system output, safety and reliability.
The construction of the project involved the establishment of a mitigation trust for the removal of Joshua Trees and other vegetation located on the solar farm’s acreage and other conservation easements as recognized by the state, said Clay Grant-Minchen, director of project development, Matrix Renewables.
Matrix funded project construction costs with tax equity provided by Bank of America for a total of $106 million and permanent financing of $99 million with an additional $25 million letter of credit facility provided by MUFG, HSBC, National Bank of Canada and Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Matrix Renewables acquired Gaskell West 2 and 3 in April 2022 from Canadian Solar development business, Recurrent Energy.
Following completion of its first U.S. utility-scale project, Cindy Tindell, managing director and head of U.S. for Matrix Renewables, said the company’s growth strategy is to deploy a 7 GW solar, wind and storage portfolio in multiple U.S. markets, including California, Texas, the Southwest and Midwest. According to the company’s website, Matrix is developing 15 U.S. projects, with two Texas solar projects, Normangee (124 MW) and Northington (156 MW), being its next projects under development after Gaskell.
The developer is owned through a Madrid-based holding company, Matrix Renewables (Spain) Holdings SL, which has an 11.7 GW global project portfolio. The company entered the U.S. market in 2021 and is backed by the TPG Rise Fund, a climate technology and sustainability fund managed by TPG, a San Francisco-based private equity firm with $135 billion of assets under management.
TPG Rise also operates Intersect Power, a utility solar and energy storage project developer throughout the U.S.