EDP Bullish on U.S. Renewable Power Despite Trump’s Support for Coal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – EDP-Energias de Portugal is optimistic about renewable power investments in the United States, despite President Donald Trump’s push to support coal and nuclear power plants and a tariff his administration slapped on imported solar panels, its chief executive said in an interview.
“U.S. renewables represent the growth engine of our company,” António Mexia, who since 2006 has run the power utility EDP , one of Portugal’s biggest companies, said in an interview on Tuesday.
U.S. wind and solar power projects represented 65 percent of new investments last year at EDP’s renewables arm EDPR , and are expected to continue at that rate in 2018 and in 2019, Mexia said. EDPR operates renewable projects in 11 other countries in Europe and the Americas.
This month, EDPR and four other companies joined with a Northern California power provider to develop an offshore wind farm with advanced floating turbines, expected to have the capacity to generate between 100 to 150 megawatts (MW). The group is talking with fishing industry and Department of Defense representatives about locations for the wind farm.
Mexia said floating technology needs to be proven commercially, but tests for the last five years off the coast of Portugal have shown the floating turbines, which use technology similar to floating oil rigs, have survived waves up to 56 feet (17 m) high.
“Traditional offshore (wind power) surprised everybody and I am sure floating offshore will do the same,” Mexia said. The advantage of floating platforms, to be placed about 20 miles (32 km) offshore in deep water, is their increased efficiency, which he expects will reach between 50 and 60 percent of rated peak capacity. That’s up from about 37 percent efficiency, which the U.S. Energy Information Administration said was the wind power industry’s average in 2017.
EDPR also invests in U.S. solar power, but its latest project is carefully planned to begin operations after the phase out of a tariff on imported solar panels that Trump signed into law on Jan. 23. The 30 percent tariff on the panels drops to 15 percent a few years later before being phased out entirely.
EDPR has secured a 200 MW power purchase agreement on the solar project with Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative in Indiana, with the start of operations expected in 2022.