May 13, 2020 Read More →

France’s Engie planning substantial investments in U.S. renewable energy, no new gas plants

Greentech Media:

Engie is on the lookout for more clean energy acquisitions in the U.S., where the company plans to ramp up its investments into grid-scale batteries, hybrid renewables projects and offshore wind, says North America chief Gwenaëlle Avice-Huet.

With a long history in fossil fuels and nuclear energy, Engie has pivoted dramatically toward renewables over the past few years — a strategy that included the U.S. acquisitions of wind developer Infinity Renewables, solar installer SoCore Energy and battery storage company Green Charge Networks.

“Do we want to continue with acquisitions? I would say yes because we want to be big in the U.S.,” said Avice-Huet, who moved from France to Texas a year ago to oversee Engie’s 6,300-person North America division. “This is a huge playground and a core geography for us strategically.”

Engie was slower than some European peers like EDF and Iberdrola in pressing into the U.S. renewables market, but it’s taken up the strategy with vigor. Through its acquisitions, the company now holds a leading position in the corporate renewables market — a market Avice-Huet expects to sustain itself through the pandemic and any downturn. Last year Engie signed more U.S. corporate wind deals than any other developer, according to the American Wind Energy Association, with a list of renewables customers that includes Microsoft, Walmart and Target.

Despite Henry Hub natural gas spot prices below $2 per MMBtu, Avice-Huet said Engie is not investing in new U.S. gas plants — no small thing for a company once known as Gaz de France (GDF). “My journey in the U.S. is very much focused on the acceleration of renewables,” she said in an interview.

More and more corporate renewables deals will involve hybrid projects marrying wind, solar and batteries, Avice-Huet said. Last year Engie announced a deal with Microsoft that will pair the output from a wind farm and solar array in Texas, along with a “volume-firming” agreement that will see Engie supplying power on a 24/7 basis. “This is the future evolution of renewables in the U.S.,” Avice-Huet said.

[Karl-Erik Stromsta]

More: Engie looking for more U.S. clean energy acquisitions: North America CEO

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