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Texas company secures $200M for solar project near Houston

The project will take over more than 1,000 acres of former farmland about an hour outside of Houston. Photo via Getty Images

An Austin-based company has scored $200 million in financing for a solar energy project it’s building in Liberty County.

Recurrent Energy’s 134-megawatt Liberty Solar project, about 50 miles northeast of Houston, is scheduled to start operating in 2024. The facility will occupy more than 1,000 acres of former farmland about six miles south of Dayton.

Last year, Recurrent Energy indicated the project represented an investment of $155 million, according to paperwork filed with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

The company lined up $120 million in financing through Rabobank, Nord LB, and U.S. Bank in the form of construction debt, a letter-of-credit facility, and a term facility. In addition, U.S. Bancorp Impact Finance, a subsidiary of U.S. Bank, is providing $80 million in tax equity.

“Liberty Solar is the second project financing that Recurrent Energy has closed in North America this summer, indicating execution on our strategy to retain greater ownership of projects in select markets,” Ismael Guerrero, CEO of Recurrent Energy, says in a news release.

Recurrent Energy announced in May 2023 that it had signed purchase agreements for all of the Liberty County site’s solar power capacity. The Austin company, a subsidiary of Canadian Solar, says Liberty Solar will generate enough energy to power an estimated 15,000 homes per year.

The five companies that agreed to buy the solar power are:

  • San Francisco-based software company Autodesk
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech company Biogen
  • Semiconductor manufacturer EMD Electronics, the North American electronics business of Germany-based pharmaceutical giant Merck
  • Boston-based home goods retailer Wayfair
  • An unidentified healthcare company

The Recurrent Energy project will expand solar capacity in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) region, which includes most of Liberty County. The nonprofit organization manages electricity in 15 states and Canada’s Manitoba province.

The solar project is outside the territory of the Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which oversees the power grid for about 90 percent of Texas.

Recurrent Energy already operates solar projects in California and Mississippi as well as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

The Liberty Solar project isn’t the only solar facility being developed in Liberty County.

Spanish renewable energy company X-ELIO said in February 2023 that it had begun construction on a 60-megawatt battery energy storage system in Liberty County that it’s pairing with a 72-megawatt solar energy facility. The two projects are being built on the same site.

The solar energy project, set to start operating in early 2024, will support ERCOT’s energy needs in the Houston area. X-ELIO says the project represents an investment of more than $130 million.

Power generated by the facility will be sold to BASF, a chemical conglomerate based in Florham Park, New Jersey. Any surplus energy will be stored by the battery system. BASF maintains its regional petrochemical headquarters in Houston and a chemical manufacturing plant in Pasadena.

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A View From HETI

LiNova will use the funds to advance its polymer cathode battery technology. Photo via Getty Images

A California startup that's revolutionizing polymer cathode battery technology has announced its series A round of funding with support from Houston-based energy transition leaders.

LiNova Energy Inc. closed a $15.8 million series A round led by Catalus Capital. Saft, a subsidiary of TotalEnergies, which has its US HQ in Houston, and Houston-based Chevron Technology Ventures, also participated in the round with a coalition of other investors.

LiNova will use the funds with its polymer cathode battery to advance the energy storage landscape, according to the company. The company uses a high-energy polymer battery technology that is designed to allow material replacement of the traditional cathode that is made up of cobalt, nickel, and other materials.

The joint development agreement with Saft will have them collaborate to develop the battery technology for commercialization in Saft's key markets.

“We are proud to collaborate with LiNova in scaling up its technology, leveraging the extensive experience of Saft's research teams, our newest prototype lines, and our industrial expertise in battery cell production," Cedric Duclos, CEO of Saft, says in a news release.

CTV recently announced its $500 million Future Energy Fund III, which aims to lead on emerging mobility, energy decentralization, industrial decarbonization, and the growing circular economy. Chevron has promised to spend $10 billion on lower carbon energy investments and projects by 2028.

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