AES bolsters solar pipeline with Community Energy acquisition

Community Energy has developed more than 3GW of solar and energy storage projects. Image: Community Energy Solar via Twitter.

US utility AES has acquired PV project developer Community Energy Solar, taking on a 10GW renewables pipeline in the process.

Having entered the solar development business in 2010, Pennsylvania-based Community Energy has developed more than 3GW of solar and energy storage plants, with a strong presence in the east coast of the US.

AES said the deal will bolster its expansion efforts through Community Energy’s solar project pipeline and development workforce.

“Community Energy has built a top reputation over the last 20 years for its ability to successfully develop renewables projects,” said Leo Moreno, AES Clean Energy president.

This year has seen Community Energy sell a Kentucky solar-storage hybrid project – featuring 173MW of PV and 120MWh of battery storage – to Silicon Ranch, expand its senior team and appoint a new CEO, Brent Beerley, who has been with the company since 2001.

Beerley said Community Energy launched its solar business with a mission to commercialise utility-scale solar and decarbonise the grid, adding: “Driven by the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for 10x growth in solar over the next decade, we decided it was time to amplify our impact by joining forces with a world-class partner.”

AES’ US renewables portfolio now includes 4.4GW of operating assets and 5.7GW of signed power purchase agreements.

The company last year merged its US-facing clean energy development business with independent power producer sPower, bringing together capabilities in solar, wind and energy storage.

Reporting its Q3 results last month, AES revealed that alongside its development work in the US, it has also completed the construction or acquisition of solar projects in Colombia and the Dominican Republic this year. As of November, the company’s backlog is 9.2GW.

AES earlier this month launched a solar installation robot to support its teams in the construction of PV plants. Called Atlas, the artificial intelligence-enabled robot will complement the firm’s workforce by performing tasks such as heavy lifting and attaching solar modules.

The robot enables “a safer work environment, shorter project timelines and lower overall energy costs”, Chris Shelton, AES chief product officer, said when the innovation was unveiled.