Ørsted has begun construction on what will be their largest onshore project, the 518MW combined wind and solar PV project named the Helena Energy Center in Bee County, Texas. The company announced that they have scheduled the completion date for the first half of 2022. The hybrid nature of the project allows Ørsted to maximize the use of the excellent location, in a highly liquid market, on a primary transmission import path into the San Antonio load center and in an area characterized by strong coastal winds and sunshine. The Helena Energy Center will consist of 268 MW Helena Wind and 250 MW solar PV Sparta Solar and has secured contracts with multiple corporate off-takers including Henkel for a portion of the wind generation and Target for a portion of the solar generation.
As part of the Helena Energy Center project, Ørsted is partnering with the Texas Native Seeds Program, non-profit research, and development program of Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M – Kingsville, to research the optimal seed mix and planting process to grow native grasses under a portion of the solar project. Potential benefits include lower operational costs, enhanced biodiversity to attract pollinators, lower erosion, and production improvements by lowering the ambient temperature.
Ørsted is building at scale and ranked among the top five US constructors in terms of capacity additions in 2020. The project takes Ørsted’s onshore operational and under construction portfolio to 4 GW, a portfolio that is both geographically and technologically diverse, spanning Texas, the Midwest, and Southeast US across wind, solar, and storage. With the significant portfolio growth over the coming years, Ørsted’s US energy trading team, up to now part of the company’s Markets business unit, has been integrated into Ørsted’s onshore business, strengthening the ability for Ørsted to manage risk more dynamically.