A Facebook First: Tech Giant Invests Directly in a Renewable Project

Analysts say the social media company’s tax-equity investment in a 379-megawatt solar project in Texas could be a sign of deals to come in the corporate renewables market.

Facebook announced Thursday it has finalized an agreement to provide tax-equity financing for a 379-megawatt solar project developed by Longroad Energy Partners in West Texas. It’s the first time the social media company, which last year committed to reaching 100 percent renewables by 2020, has directly invested in a wind or solar project.

Shell Energy North America, another corporation that’s shown increasing interest in renewables, signed a 12-year power-purchase agreement for the project’s power. Both Facebook and Shell will use the renewable energy credits from the project, though Facebook told Greentech Media it would receive the majority of those credits.

Facebook will be the sole tax-equity investor for the Prospero project, saying its investment could provide a new model for corporations investigating renewables procurement.

“We hope such investments can be a new avenue of meaningfully engaging with projects, which might be easier for some companies than a long-term power-purchase agreement, thereby unlocking new options for more organizations to meet their goals and grow the market,” said Peter Freed, Facebook’s energy strategy manager, in a statement.

Longroad Energy Partners, the Boston-based wind and solar developer behind the Prospero project, will use First Solar panels and trackers from Nextracker. The engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project is California’s Swinerton Renewable Energy. It’s slated for completion in 2020.

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