8minute Solar Energy: ‘Every Project’ Could Have Built-In Storage

A year after a leadership shakeup, 8minute has more projects in more states — and a record for solar-plus-storage pricing.

A year out from a leadership change that saw company co-founder Tom Buttgenbach buying out founder and CEO Martin Hermann, 8minute Solar Energy has a new name, an expanding footprint in new markets and a record-breaking solar-plus-storage project under contract with Los Angeles’ municipal utility.

8minute now ranks in the top five developers in the U.S., according to data from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. The California-based developer is increasingly garnering attention for its eye-popping project sizes and an aggressive move into paired storage.

The recent announcements are “the culmination of years’ worth of effort,” said Sean Kiernan, the company’s senior vice president of development, but they’re also the result of 8minute’s focused development approach.

The rift between Buttgenbach and Hermann stemmed in part from disagreements about whether to keep 8minute’s developments in the U.S. or go global. With Buttgenach’s U.S.-centric vision the winner, 8minute has been reaping the rewards.

Super-sized success beyond California

8minute has traditionally focused on solar installations in its home state. It has finished projects providing electricity to all three of the state’s large investor-owned utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Electric & Gas, sited in two inland desert counties.

More recently, 8minute has branched out to Nevada and Texas — markets that look relatively similar to California in terms of land and market dynamics and where large projects are viable, according to Kiernan.

The developer recently tied up negotiations on two more projects in Texas, totaling 525 megawatts. In July, it sold to Duke Energy a 200-megawatt project located in west-central Texas, a part of the state seeing a larger number of bigger solar installations.

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