McCarthy to Build $525m Chicago Solar Project

Large federal funds are being pumped into alternative energy.

Source : Freepik

April 20, 2023

Author : Alex Bustillos

The solar energy market in the United States is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 17.32% from 2022 to 2027, reaching 270 GW by 2027 from 96.19 GW in 2020. In 2021, the global solar energy systems market was valued at $160.3 billion.

With fast depleting and negatively impacting non-renewable sources of energy sounding the clarion call, an increasing number of developers and governments are shifting to solar power!

Swift Current Energy is starting construction on its Double Black Diamond solar project in central Illinois. McCarthy Building Companies of St. Louis has been hired as the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractor. 

Swift Current has also chosen American-based First Solar to supply the 800 MWdc solar modules for the project and Nextracker to supply the smart solar tracker technology. The majority of the 1.6 million solar panels for the project will be made in the country.

These solar panels will rotate to follow the sun's passage across the sky, producing 25% to 30% more power than fixed-tilt installations.

The facility will serve the city of Chicago and will offset the equivalent emissions of more than 85,000 Illinois households annually. 

Beginning in 2025, the city would partially source its significant energy uses, such as Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport, as well as other large facilities, with renewable energy from the project. In addition, the project is estimated to generate $100 million in tax income for Sangamon and Morgan counties.

The project is hiring roughly 435 craft workers to construct the Double Black Diamond solar project in collaboration with local unions, and crews have already begun site work. The project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2024.

This project is deemed the state's largest solar energy project and will help boost the region’s green energy infrastructure.

McCarthy declined to disclose the cost of the construction project, but the Illinois Times estimated the costs at $535 million late last year. In Virginia, a similar size solar project was reportedly estimated to cost $800 million.

“We are grateful to be partnering with Swift Current Energy to build Illinois’ largest solar project and helping to deliver upon the sustainability and DEI goals of the Double Black Diamond project,” said Scott Canada, Executive Vice President of McCarthy’s Renewable Energy & Storage team. 

First Solar is also expanding its US manufacturing presence, including three active plants in Ohio and more than 5 GW of annual nameplate capacity. The annual capacity is expected to reach over 10 GW by 2025 when it will complete a $1.1 billion factory in Alabama, a $185 million expansion of the existing capacity in Ohio, and invest $270 million in a new research and development innovation center in Ohio.

Over the past year, solar has emerged as a hub of construction activity. For example, Bechtel, located in Reston, Virginia, completed a $140 million solar project in Fort Bend, Texas. Contractor News reported last year that PCL Construction had seen 60% growth in its solar division revenue.

Category : Contractor Trades Efficiency-Improving Technology Federal Government Green Economy Green Construction Investment in Infrastructure

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