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EGEB: Microsoft to buy 430MW of solar power from Ørsted in Texas

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • Microsoft signs a power purchase agreement with Ørsted to buy solar energy in Texas.
  • Canadian solar panel maker Heliene opens a second US manufacturing site, in Florida.
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

Microsoft, Ørsted, solar, and Texas

Microsoft has signed a power purchase agreement with Danish clean energy company Ørsted. The tech giant will be buying solar power from Ørsted’s Old 300, its 430 MW solar energy center in Fort Bend County, Texas, that is expected to come online in the second quarter of 2022.

 The solar farm will sit on 2,800 acres of privately owned land, near Needville. As Solar Industry Magazine points out:

The project represents an investment of more than $400 million in the local community that will benefit landowners, schools and other community services in the coming years via lease payments and property taxes.

Read more: The IPCC climate change report – what it says and what we can do

Heliene (and SolarTech?) in Florida

Canadian solar panel manufacturer Heliene is opening its second US manufacturing site. It will be in Riviera Beach, Florida, on the east coast, in a building that has been occupied by SolarTech Universal. Heliene’s already-established US factory is in Mountain Iron, Minnesota.

A Heliene spokesperson told Electrek that the building is being leased to Heliene by a commercial real estate company, and that “SolarTech is no longer operating at the Riviera Beach facility.”

But an employee of SolarTech, who didn’t speak in an official capacity, told us on the phone – from the company’s Riviera Beach facility – that SolarTech, which opened in Florida in 2015, is not shutting down, and will be sharing the building with Heliene.

So will Heliene and SolarTech, unbeknownst to Heliene, be housemates, or is SolarTech, unbeknownst to the SolarTech employee we spoke to, shutting down?

Solar Power World wrote yesterday:

 SolarTech was the only US manufacturer of heterojunction technology (HJT) panels in the last five years, and Heliene will continue using the advanced manufacturing process.

Both companies manufacture HJT panels, and it’s the only location in the US where they’re made. Heliene’s spokesperson asserts that their product is unique.

The Solar Nerd explains what HJT is:

Heterojunction solar cells combine two different technologies into one cell: a crystalline silicon cell sandwiched between two layers of amorphous “thin film” silicon. Used together, these technologies allow more energy to be harvested compared to using either technology alone.

The new Florida location will increase Heliene’s manufacturing capacity by 100 megawatts to a total of 240 megawatts of US production panel capacity. It will begin manufacturing operations in Florida next month, and it says more than 60 new manufacturing, maintenance, engineering, and logistics jobs will be created there.

Regardless of whether it’s just Heliene, or both Heliene and SolarTech making solar panels in Riviera Beach, we’re just glad the panels are going to be made.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.