Developing Solar Market Benefits from the Wind Expertise of a Utility-Scale Contractor
IEA or Infrastructure and Energy Alternatives is crucial in heavy civil construction. White Construction, the subsidiary company, has been in a constant battle with Mortenson, a market leader in wind energy for the best wind power EPC in the US. After the construction of more than 23 GW of wind programs in the US and Canada, it’s not surprising that IEA has decided to invest more in the solar industry.
Joe Broom, senior VP of solar, mentioned that IEA had produced most of its solar programs in Canada, but concentrated more on the growing market in the US in 2019. Wind power has always been the company’s main source of income, but they decided to concentrate more on other renewable energy sources such as solar. The senior VP stated that a 5-year operating strategy has been given to them, which they were able to meet in Year 3.
Though there were many challenges, the solar market has been strong since there aren’t ample quality EPCs available in the market to cover all the work. At first, IEA did programs under 100 MW. Now, IEA has become better streamlined. They only work with 2 or 4 component suppliers to fully understand the different installation processes to quickly and efficiently complete the projects. They’ve also bid on bigger projects which have kept them busy.
Broom also said that their solar revenues were the same as wind revenues for one quarter of this year. It was somewhat of a surprise to the system especially since wind contracts have always remained the same even with the US converting to a construction market outside the country. He described that White Construction leading in the wind construction market happened because it subcontracted on a wind farm, its rise in the solar industry happening as planned.
When the company was launched in 2018, it had a chance to have a discussion with its board members who had various expertise and skill sets in different industries. The strategy was not to concentrate on a single market. Expanding to the solar market is one example of this.