By Mark Del Franco
Goldwind Americas, the Chicago-based subsidiary of Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., continues to rack up milestones associated with the U.S. wind industry.
Last week, the wind turbine manufacturer received tax equity financing commitments from MidAmerican Wind Tax Equity Holdings and Citi for the 160 MW Rattlesnake Wind Project, located in McCulloch County, Texas.
The approximately $250 million Rattlesnake Wind Project, powered by 64 Goldwind GW 109/2.5 MW permanent-magnet, direct-drive (PMDD) wind turbines, will be Goldwind’s largest U.S. wind project to date.
Typically, such financing agreements are necessary milestones on the way to a project’s completion. But these deals represent something more for Goldwind. It is its first project in Texas and its first tax equity-financed project, a first of its kind for a Chinese wind energy technology company.
The financing package from a pair of blue-chip Western financial investors signifies market acceptance of its so-called Chinese technology – although Goldwind’s technology is licensed from Goldwind-owned German provider Vensys.
“This is everything for us,” David Halligan, CEO at Goldwind, tells North American Windpower, noting that the company has spent the last few years building out its pipeline of projects.
“Originally, we were focused on market entry,” Halligan explains. “But since 2014, we’ve focused on a commercialization strategy by building out a pipeline of projects. We’re trying to differentiate ourselves through innovation and technology. [This deal] really opens the door for us.”
Indeed. Typically, the turbine provider has leaned on the China Development Bank for financing.
“If you want to finance U.S. wind projects, you have to go with the local institutions,” explains Halligan, who uses “local” as in the U.S., where tax equity providers, such as Citi, that pay huge sums of U.S. income tax can monetize tax credits.
To say the deal caused market waves may be an overstatement. That said, tax equity providers took notice.
“If the number of inquiries in my inbox is an indication,” Halligan chuckles, “I would say the marketplace has taken notice.”
Indeed, it has been a big 12 months at Goldwind. In November, the turbine provider entered into an exclusive agreement with Viridis Eolia LLC, a Wyoming corporation, for the conditional supply of up to 1,870 MW of Goldwind’s PMDD wind turbines.
Two weeks later, Goldwind unveiled a 3 MW smart wind turbine platform, the GW3S, which features scalable capacity, smart turbine controls and a structured design. The platform design maintains Goldwind’s PMDD technology and incorporates attributes from the GW1.5 MW and GW2.5 MW platforms, including availability and performance.
Clearly, the company hopes to continue its winning streak and hints at several upcoming announcements in the commercial and industrial market, as well as with Phase II of the Rattlesnake project.