Duke Energy has begun construction on the 22.6-MW Speedway Solar power plant in Cabarrus County, North Carolina.
The project will be owned and operated by Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions, a new commercial brand that includes Duke Energy Renewables. The project was selected as part of the competitive bidding process established by 2017’s landmark solar legislation in North Carolina.
The power plant will contain about 77,000 Jinko bifacial modules with single-axis tracking. The plant will be located on 185 acres in Midland, North Carolina — near the corner of Wallace Road and Bethel Avenue Extension. The facility will power the equivalent of 5000 homes. It is targeting commercial operation by the end of 2021.
“Duke Energy is making an aggressive push to expand renewable energy, reduce carbon emissions, and achieve a net-zero carbon goal for 2050,” said Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “An expansion of solar power will be a key element of that effort.”
Under North Carolina’s Competitive Procurement for Renewable Energy, proposed projects must be built where there is a need for energy capacity on the Duke Energy system in North Carolina or South Carolina. The bids can come from any company, including Duke Energy, and can be in the form of power purchase agreements (PPA), utility self-developed facilities, or utility asset acquisitions.
“We’re pleased to be able to add more clean energy resources to the state. This facility will not only address the increasing clean energy needs of our communities but will also deliver significant economic benefits to Cabarrus County,” said Chris Fallon, president of Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions.
During peak construction, Speedway Solar will employ about 70 workers. Along with indirect economic benefits that accompany solar project development, such as increased local spending in the service and construction industries, Speedway Solar will also have a positive economic impact on the local community by providing local tax revenues to the county and local school districts, as well as meaningful payments to the participating landowners.
Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions also supports the communities where its facilities and team members are based through the efforts of the Duke Energy Foundation, which awarded a US$5000 grant to the Cabarrus County Education Foundation to increase internet connectivity for students in Midland and Mount Pleasant, North Carolina.
The facility’s design, procurement of inverters, balance of plant systems, and construction of the project will be performed by Swinerton. The solar power generated by Speedway Solar will be delivered through a 20-year PPA.
Duke Energy maintains more than 3700 MW of solar power on its energy grid in North Carolina, which could power about 700,000 homes and businesses at peak output. The company also operates more than 40 solar facilities in the state. North Carolina currently ranks No. 3 in the nation for overall solar power. With nuclear, hydro, and renewable energy, more than half of North Carolina’s energy mix is carbon-free.
Duke Energy plans to double its enterprise-wide renewable portfolio from 8 GW of capacity to 16 GW by the end of 2025.