South Korea’s largest electric utility, Korea Energy Power Corp., known as KEPCO (NYSE: KEP), said it is acquiring the Alamosa Solar Generating Project from Cogentrix Energy, owned by global private equity firm Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG).
The Alamosa solar energy farm is the largest high concentrating solar photovoltaic (CPV) power generation facility in the world. It is located on 225 acres in the San Luis Valley near Alamosa, Colorado and produces 30 megawatts of solar power for use by customers of the Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo). The San Luis Valley was chosen for its outstanding sunlight characteristics, high elevation and an ability to easily deliver the solar project’s output to the utility transmission system.
The Alamosa Solar project consists of over 500 dual-axis, pedestal mounted tracker assemblies, each capable of producing approximately 60 kW of electricity from the sun. Each tracker assembly is 70 feet wide by 50 feet high and contains 7,560 Fresnel lenses that concentrate sunlight by a multiple of 500 onto multijunction solar cells developed originally as part of the US space program. The photovoltaic assemblies were provided by Amonix, Inc. while construction of the facility was contracted to M.A. Mortenson Co.
KEPCO has been operating 37 energy projects across 22 countries over the past two decades, mostly in emerging markets, but is said to have been seeking to expand into renewable energy markets in advanced economies to diversify and bolster its portfolio.
The Alamosa deal which is KEPCO’s first entry into the U.S. energy market, is expected to set the stage for KEPCO’s further expansion in North America.
KEPCO, founded in 1898 as Hansung Electric Co. during the Joseon Dynasty, is an integrated electric utility company, which generates, transmits, and distributes electricity in South Korea and internationally. The company also builds and operates hydro-power, thermal-power, and nuclear power units in South Korea. KEPCO is responsible for 93% of Korea’s electricity generation. The South Korean government (directly and indirectly) owns a 51.11% share of KEPCO. The company has a market capitalization of $33.36 billion.
In December 2012, the Carlyle Infrastructure Partners fund originally acquired from Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE: GS) the North American power generation assets held by Cogentrix Energy LLC, which included five coal and solar power projects in Florida, Virginia, Colorado and California, as well as a development pipeline of gas and renewable power projects, forming Carlyle Power Partners.
Since then, Carlyle has closed or announced investments in 25 additional power plants located throughout the United States.
In April 2016, Carlyle raised $1.5 billion for its Carlyle Power Partners II (CPP II). The fund targets power generation assets throughout North America and leverages the technical, engineering and management capabilities of Cogentrix Energy, its power operations platform based in Charlotte, N.C.
Following completion of the fund’s acquisition of Essential Power, announced in February 2016, the Carlyle Power Partners portfolio includes 28 facilities representing a total capacity of over 5,800 megawatts (net).
The Carlyle Group is a global alternative asset manager with more than $203 billion in assets under management across 129 funds and 141 fund of private equity funds vehicles. Founded in 1987 in Washington, DC, Carlyle has grown into one of the world’s largest and most successful investment firms, with more than 1,600 professionals operating in 40 offices in North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Japan, Asia and Australia.
KEPCO said it also signed a separate memorandum of understanding with Carlyle to form a cooperative relationship to develop an independent power producer business, renewable energy business and other types of energy businesses, according to Reuters.