Facebook signed up to buy a 200-megawatt chunk of power from the Aviator Wind turbine project in Texas, set to become the largest single-site U.S. wind farm when completed next year, according to developer Apex Clean Energy.
Already the largest corporate buyer of renewable power at the end of 2018 — narrowly topping Google, according to Wood Mackenzie — Facebook has continued to chalk up big deals for wind and solar power this year.
The 525-megawatt Aviator Wind project is being built at a single site in Coke County in West Texas, and in a single phase — unusual for a U.S. wind farm of that scale. Duke Energy’s 912-megawatt Los Vientos wind farm will remain Texas’ largest wind farm, according to American Wind Energy Association data, but that project was built over multiple phases spanning 2012-2016.
The Aviator project was developed by Virginia-based Apex, a leading U.S. renewables developer, and is owned by funds of asset management giant Ares Management Corp.
Facebook has committed to procuring enough renewable power to meet 100 percent of its needs by 2020; as of 2018 it was three-quarters of the way there. In May the social media company made its first direct investment into a renewables project, providing tax-equity financing for a 397-megawatt Texas solar project developed by Longroad Energy Partners.
Corporate deals now play a central role in the U.S. renewables market. That looks set to continue for at least a few more years as companies take advantage of unprecedented wind and solar prices ahead of the scheduled phase-down of the main federal subsidies for renewable energy. Texas remains the corporate market’s epicenter, though it is diversifying as more companies seek to procure power closer to the loads.
A recent analysis from WoodMac and AWEA identified as much as 85 gigawatts of renewable energy demand within Fortune 1000 companies through 2030. A critical question for the market is how corporate demand will hold up as — or if — federal renewables subsidies step down, putting upward pressure on power-purchase agreement prices.
“The ambitious sustainability goals of corporate leaders like Facebook will play a key role in accelerating the transition to renewable energy — faster than ever anticipated — in the years to come,” Apex CEO Mark Goodwin said in a statement.