Today Recurrent Energy made some news with the announcement of our first 4.8MW of rooftop projects in Spain. These projects are the first projects to emerge from our efforts in Europe that were started last year. But what’s really remarkable about these projects is how they were developed and what they indicate about the sizable role distributed-scale solar will play in the industry’s future.
Recurrent Energy developed the Spanish projects through an innovative co-development arrangement with ProLogis (NYSE:PLD), the leading global provider of distribution facilities. Under the terms of the arrangement, Recurrent Energy leases rooftop space from ProLogis (which owns 450-million square feet of such roofs worldwide!) as a site for our projects. As the owner of the projects, Recurrent Energy provides the financing to construct and operate them. The projects generate income for Recurrent Energy through the Spanish feed-in tariff that provides 32 euro-cents per kilowatt-hour delivered to the grid.
To date, most commercial and industrial projects have been done one building or one owner at a time. That means for each rooftop, the developer typically had to negotiate a separate roof lease agreement and power purchase agreement (PPA). That’s a lot of legal paperwork and expense to go through for smaller rooftop projects. Under Recurrent Energy’s approach, we sign one master lease that covers a large number of buildings and sell the electricity under one tariff (or utility PPA in the US). That allows us to reduce the transaction cost associated with rooftop solar and aggregate significant generating capacity.
Why is that important? Because it points the way to a business model that enables us to do rooftop solar efficiently in large volumes. And that’s important because it is business-model problems that have kept us from tapping the solar potential of large commercial and industrial rooftops. We’ve “cracked the code” on these types of projects, opening up a significant new resource for generating clean electricity right where it’s needed most, in urban load centers.
Recurrent Energy has differentiated itself by pursuing a distributed-scale development strategy. Our vision is to build and operate a large fleet of 2MW to 20MW solar PV projects, selling clean electricity to utilities, governments, and commercial customers. Our Spanish project (and our pipeline of over 500MW across North America and Europe) demonstrates that we can aggregate small projects into a large portfolio and play a sizable role as a generator of clean electric power.