Renewables investment manager Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners has launched a new solar-plus-storage development arm headed by former executives from First Solar, Recurrent Energy and Engie Storage.

The new California-based venture, called Primergy, will develop, own and operate utility-scale and distributed solar and storage assets in the U.S., with Nevada’s Gemini Solar as the “marquee project,” said David Scaysbrook, a founder and managing partner at Quinbrook.

The 690-megawatt Gemini project, which the investment manager is developing along with Arevia Power, secured its final federal approval last week. When complete, Gemini is anticipated to be the largest solar project in the U.S.

Due to its sizable 380-megawatt battery storage addition, Gemini is held up as a prime example of the U.S. large-scale solar landscape shifting toward solar-plus-storage. Utility NV Energy will use power from Gemini during the day and draw on the solar-charged battery at night.

With the addition of Gemini, Primergy says it has a solar development portfolio of about 3 gigawatts in the works. Most of its projects are located in the same region as Gemini and designed along similar lines. 

“We wanted to replicate the Gemini strategy — that is, to find large parcels of land close to populated city centers like Gemini is to Las Vegas,” Scaysbrook told GTM. “We followed the formula, and that has naturally led us to the Southwest.”

Primergy has a project underway near Phoenix as well as others in Colorado and California. Those projects will be large, though not as gargantuan as Gemini. The team is also working on smaller projects between 100 and 200 megawatts in the PJM Interconnection region.

Batteries key to the solar business

In addition to large-scale solar assets, Primergy will develop distributed solar. It has already completed construction on a portfolio in Illinois and has projects in the works in Colorado and Texas. As is the case with Gemini, Primergy will work with partners on early-stage origination and permitting. Primergy and Quinbrook will take the lead on design, procurement and construction.

Many of the company’s future solar projects will come with batteries attached, Scaysbrook said. Others will be designed so storage may later be added to the installation.

Quinbrook made Primergy’s dual emphasis on storage and solar clear in its leadership choices: In addition to hiring Ty Daul, formerly president of Canadian Solar subsidiary Recurrent Energy, to serve as Primergy’s CEO, Engie Storage CFO Tim Larrison will join the company as CFO.

“If you’re not space-constrained, or there’s no other prohibition or restriction, there’s no reason why solar and a battery won’t be a standard configuration,” said Scaysbrook.

Primergy is not Quinbrook’s first significant foray into storage. In 2017 the firm acquired GlidePath Power Solutions, a Chicago-based developer focused on distributed projects with a particular emphasis on standalone storage. GlidePath claims to be working on more than 2 gigawatts of storage projects in 18 states.

Taken together with Quinbrook’s wind platform, Scout Energy, Primergy offers Quinbrook competencies that encompass an array of clean energy technologies. Scaysbrook said the firm will sometimes develop wind, solar and storage projects together.