Mitsui Invest $12 million in Tres Amigas

  • Posted on: 25 January 2012
  • By: chw staff

Tres Amigas, the US-based national grid interconnection project known as the Tres Amigas SuperStation, announced that Mitsui, a global trading, IT and industrial infrastructure services company, has agreed to invest $12 million. In exchange, Mitsui will obtain an equity position and actively participate. By partnering with Tres Amigas, Mitsui plans to further internationalize their "Smart Green Information Technology" business model, which includes Smart Grid IT, renewable energy development and management, and CO2 emissions mitigation strategies.

The SuperStation project represents, in essence, the world's first high capacity "Renewable Energy Hub," although trading of conventional sources of electricity will be accommodated, too. This first-of-its-kind power transmission hub is designed to interconnect America's three primary electricity grids, the Eastern (Southwest Power Pool), Western (Western Electricity Coordinating Council) and Texas (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) networks by utilizing information technology.

Coordinated via market-based dispatch through the Tres Amigas SuperStation, the goal is to create firm and reliable renewable power from intermittent renewable sources such as solar and wind. Most significantly, the new strategy will allow customers to purchase a reliable portfolio of power with the largest possible component of solar and wind power. The clean generating capacities and the needs of varying regions, including the state's renewable portfolio standard requirements, will have more opportunities to be accommodated.

The buildout of the $1.5 billion SuperStation is expected to occur in stages. Engineering design for Phase I is well underway, with construction scheduled to commence in 2012, and Phase I commercial operations scheduled for 2015. The initial power transfer capacity will be 750 MW between the Western and Eastern grids. Once energized, energy producers and marketers will be able to transfer sizable blocks of power from region to region. Energy purchasers will also have access to regions heretofore inaccessible for their needs. In addition to improving the reliability, efficiency and economics of the nation's separate grids, the SuperStation will provide value-added services and larger market opportunities to intermittent power sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and storage.

Mitsui advocated the establishment of a new business model in the Smart Green IT area and seeks the business opportunity in the U.S., while Tres Amigas is looking for the strategic partner; that's why the partnership between Mitsui and TA is realized.

Through this project and partnership, Mitsui will enter the "Distribution and Accommodation of Electricity by utilizing Information Technology," and will maximize Tres Amigas's value by Mitsui's several functions. In addition to that, Mitsui shall look for business possibilities, such as supplying a battery management system, transmission system with its installation services and system integration service by a Japanese company, which would provide detailed services. Through this project as the first "Renewable Energy Market Hub" in the U.S., Mitsui aims to accumulate the know-how on Smart Grid business, RE business, and Distribution and Accommodation of the Electricity by utilizing Information Technology, and to expand this business model to Japan and other countries.