Ørsted says it has initiated construction on the 471 MW AC Mockingbird Solar Center in Texas. Covering an area of 4,900 acres, Mockingbird will be able to generate enough energy to power more than 80,000 homes annually, making it the largest solar PV project in Ørsted’s portfolio to date.
Ørsted has taken final investment decision (FID) on Mockingbird and will start construction of the project this month. Completion of the project is expected in 2024.
“Adding almost half a gigawatt to our portfolio, the decision to build Mockingbird represents an important milestone for our onshore business and for our expansion in solar PV,” says David Hardy, CEO of Region Americas at Ørsted. “We look forward to building Mockingbird and for this project to start producing clean energy at a large scale. Mockingbird will achieve this while doing so in a way that prioritizes conservation and our deep commitment to the communities we serve.”
Almost 1,000 acres of land adjacent to Mockingbird Solar Center will be donated to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to protect native prairie in north-east Texas. Less than 1% of the original tallgrass prairies of Texas survive today, and less than 5% remains nationally. The Ørsted-TNC conservation effort will be the largest preservation effort on record for this type of native prairie.
“We need to deliver green energy for this generation while protecting natural habitats for the next. That’s why we’ve prioritized the Smiley-Woodfin Prairie in Texas as our first biodiversity initiative in the United States,” states Daniel Willard, biodiversity specialist at Ørsted. “We want to thank The Nature Conservancy for working with us on this conservation effort. Drawing on both internal expertise and outside guidance, we’ll continue to look for opportunities to protect the prairie and ensure that native plants and pollinators thrive.”
The land to be preserved will be transferred to TNC before the solar farm enters into operation and begins delivering renewable energy to the community.
In 2021, Ørsted signed a 10-year corporate power purchase agreement with Royal DSM, which will be purchasing a share of the power from Mockingbird.