Article provided by Tim Sylvia, pv-magazine-usa.com
This unprecedented development in the Hoosier State is just the beginning of a much, much bigger tidal wave of development, all of which is planned before Halloween of 2023.
Over half a year after a buyer was decided upon, the proposed 199 MW Speedway Solar Project in Shelby County, Indiana has been officially announced as happening.
Even more exciting than the news of the project moving forward, which was the next logical step after an off taker was found last December, is the announcement that the project’s construction will ring in at a cool $175 million price tag, well under $1/watt.
Speedway Solar, located just one county over from the iconic Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway from which the project’s namesake is derived, is now all but certain to start construction. The project is being developed by Ranger Power, based out of Brooklyn, New York. Once the project is completed (scheduled for 2023), the entirety of its capacity will be sold to Wabash Valley Power, a wholesale supplier for 19 nonprofit electric cooperatives in the state.
Additionally, the contract is for 35 years, running through 2058, which shows a new level of confidence in the longevity of solar technology.
“Opportunities like the Speedway project don’t come along every day,” noted Wabash Valley Executive Vice President of Risk & Resource, Lee Wilmes in a release touting the purchase agreement. “A 35-year, fixed price contract with no risk of fuel escalation is an impactful addition to our power supply mix and enables us to take one more step in reducing the carbon footprint of our total energy portfolio.”
And, since it feels like it’s been a while, let’s take a look at what this project means in the context of Indiana’s solar industry as a whole. The state currently has a total installed capacity of 331 MW, meaning that this project alone would increase the state’s entire installed solar capacity by 60%.
But before any further venturing is had, that previous figure is entirely useless. Why is that? Because Indiana is poised to have a whole heap of a lot more installed solar by the time the Speedway project is completed.
According to the MISO interconnection queue, there are 5.7 GW of projects this big and larger planned for Indiana by the end of October 2023. If you’re thinking to yourself that that’s absolutely astronomical predicted development, you should know that figure excludes any project on the queue under 199 MW. Now when all proposed interconnection projects are considered, that number jumps to nearly 8.6 GW, for a state that, once again, has 331 MW to its name so far.
Now that number is destined only to fall, as plenty of projects in any interconnection queue never get built. However, if we use ISO New England’s figure that an estimated 30% of projects with interconnection agreements see finalization, we’re still looking at 2.6 GW, nearly eight times more than the current installed capacity, over a 4-year span. And, one last thing, these figures do not include the portions if Indiana that are part of the PJM Interconnection grid, nor any distributed solar.
If there was ever any doubt that the Midwest is poised for an exponential solar boom, let those be put to rest.