The Williams Companies, Inc. WMB recently announced its plan to install solar projects with capacities around one and 40 megawatt (MW) on lands nearby its existing facilities. The solar power installations are expected to come online in late 2021.
To this end, the company has already identified initial sites suitable for solar photovoltaic (PV) plants in nine states comprising Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Of these, Colorado will be the first region wherein Williams will earmark spots for solar installations.
This U.S. natural gas processing and transmission firm aims to produce solar electricity for its operations by capitalizing on the federal and state tax credits as well as lowering losses on long-haul transmissions. Investments in intermittent solar power are made viable by the benefits of combined cycle back up on the grid and tax credits.
Williams currently buys more than 400 MW of electricity for the facilities wherein solar farms will be fixed to generate the intended power capacity. The on-site farms are estimated to produce a combined 350 MW of power with some hubs having the potential to sell any excess power generated back to the grid.
Solar is already popular among households. However, it is gaining more acceptance from oil and gas energy players for providing a quick, clean, cheap and flexible source of energy unlike coal and natural gas plants. Apart from the Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) Williams, some oil and gas integrated players like Occidental Petroleum OXY, a major entity in the shale oil industry in the Permian Basin, unveiled plans to launch a solar-powered facility to power oilfields. Additionally, oil giant ExxonMobil XOM is targeting an enormous output of one million oil-equivalent barrels per day by 2024 as it signed a multi-year contract with Orsted, which is expected to supply roughly 500 MW of wind and solar energy to Exxon's facilities in the Permian Basin. Also, Royal Dutch Shell RDS.A runs a portion of its oil fields in the Permian with solar power. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Undoubtedly, the novel coronavirus outbreak, which dealt a major blow to almost all industries across the board, is expected to hurt U.S. solar stocks too. However, solar investors should remain optimistic considering the affordability of solar, which plummeted from $3.53/W in 2010 to 80 cents/W in 2019, indicating its bright, long-term future as an alternative energy source. It is still a more attractive natural resource than coal or gas when it comes to electricity generation. Meanwhile, the current low prices of natural gas and oil may just be a temporary blip to the leverage of renewables in the market.
(We are reissuing this article to correct a mistake. The original article, issued on June 1, 2020, should no longer be relied upon.)
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