Indigenous group using solar PPAs to preserve land
An Indigenous group in Colombia has partnered with a multinational renewable energy developer on a $120 million project that will fund the community's effort to buy and protect land from unwanted development.
Why it matters: This unusual project, named Terra Initiative, may create a new revenue model for land preservation — one that other companies may look to deploy in the U.S. and other nations.
The details: Greenwood Energy, a subsidiary of Libra Group, is installing 144 megawatts of utility-scale solar arrays across six remote sites.
- Groundbreaking is set for the fourth quarter of 2022, with the first site set to start generating electricity next year, the company tells Axios.
- The Confederación Indígena Tayrona, the organization representing the Arhuaco people in Colombia, will be paid for each kilowatt-hour of power that the solar arrays generate.
- Those funds will be used to buy and preserve about 460 square miles in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
By the numbers: Greenwood is pursuing multiple power purchase agreements (PPAs) to sell electricity from the panels to the grid.
- The Confederación will be paid a 5% "environmental fee" — akin to a typical commercialization fee — by Greenwood Energy.
- Once the projects are operational, the funds will be sufficient to buy about 3 square miles per year.
- The rate will be indexed to account for inflation.
What they're saying: "This opens whole new possibilities of infrastructure structuring," Greenwood Energy CEO Guido Patrignani tells Axios. "The project is specifically addressing Indigenous communities that protect the environment."
Of note: Greenwood will be constructing town buildings for the Arhuaco people, with space for about 50 families per town.
- The program also calls for job training and donating the panels to the community to own and operate after 25 years.