Enel Green Energy's Roadrunner project will create 500 construction jobs, $60 million in property taxes
By Mella McEwen, Midland Reporter Telegram
Thursday, March 7, 2019
Companies being drawn to West Texas by its abundance of energy see more than crude and natural gas.
Enel Green Energy, the Italian company, sees an abundance of renewable energy to harness. And it is already doing so with its 63-megawatt Snyder wind farm in Scurry County and the High Lonesome wind farm under construction in Upton and Crockett counties, the world's largest wind farm.
Now Enel Green Power is beginning construction on its Roadrunner solar project, a 497- megawatt project that is not only the largest solar farm in Texas but the company's largest solar project in North America.
Company executives said via email that wind and sun are some of the most abundant sources of energy in the world, "and Texas has plenty of both. This natural advantage, along with the call for increased energy storage, positions the state to lead renewable energy procurement. Through these projects we are supporting the diversification of energy production in the state and decreasing reliability on one source."
They point to a recent Business Council for Sustainable Energy report that total renewable energy capacity has doubled within the past decade, with wind and solar representing nearly all new additions.
"Solar, wind, and other renewable energy resources have helped diversify the state's energy supply, helping to increase resiliency and maintain lower energy prices. Enel first entered Texas in 2008 with the 63 megawatt Snyder wind farm, located in Scurry County. Since then we saw an opportunity to go back to Texas to diversify our market presence with the High Lonesome wind farm, and now we are excited to begin construction on the Roadrunner solar project. Together, the three projects have resulted in 1 gigawatt of renewables growth in Texas – that's enough power to light 100 million LED bulbs," the executives said.
The Roadrunner project is expected to create more than 500 construction jobs in the Upton County area, and Enel Green Power officials look to fill as many of those positions as possible with the skilled workforce already in place. More importantly, they said the project is expected to contribute more than $60 million in property taxes over the next 30 years.
The project will come online in two phases. The first phase of construction is expected to be complete by the end of this year and the second phase in operation by the end of 2020. When both phases are complete, Roadrunner will span 2,770 acres and be comprised of 1.3 million solar panels that will generate 497 megawatts
When Roadrunner is fully operational by the end of 2020, it will generate approximately 1.2 terawatt hours annually.
Officials said they are taking steps to ensure the reliability of the project.
"We consider potential weather impacts in our plant design and equipment selection. Recognizing the prevalence of wind and thunderstorms in West Texas, we have selected a solar panel tracking system that utilizes passive wind management technologies, which means that the system will automatically move to a wind-resistant position without power, computers or human intervention. When wind events stop, the system will then automatically reset and continue to operate normally. We also included stronger structural designs on the outer edge of the solar array, which experiences the greatest wind forces. This helps protect the trackers around the outer edge as well as those deeper inside the solar field.
"We utilize industry-leading technologies such as visual data analytics, drones, machine learning and edge computing to detect potential weather-related problems and solve them proactively. Combining all of these design features, technology and maintenance practices results in a very reliable system that is resilient to wind and storms," they said