Greenfield solar developer Westbridge Renewable Energy Corporation expects 2023 to be a year for growth, with plans for expansion, monetizing its projects and exploring green hydrogen.
Westbridge (WEB-V), formerly known as Westbridge Energy, is a solar project and battery energy storage (BESS) developer based in Calgary that has been publicly traded since June 2021.
It has four projects in Canada, one in the U.S. and one in the U.K., with its flagship being the 710-acre, 278 megawatt-peak Georgetown Solar PV project in Mossleigh, Alta.
The company identifies sites with potential for solar development and attracts buyers before, or at the construction stage. Then it progresses projects from raw land through the licensing, zoning, permitting and regulatory process until it is ready to build.
The rights to the project are sold to groups such as a large-scale utility or financial investor which will build and/or operate the facility.
Westbridge director and executive chair Scott Kelly outlined the company’s 2023 strategy to SustainableBiz after a year that saw notable portfolio growth and market activity.
The firm added several solar and BESS projects to its portfolio in 2022. The largest is the Eastervale Project, a 300 megawatt-peak and 200 MW BESS in eastern Alberta.
Megawatt-peak refers to the power output of a solar energy system at ideal conditions. The capacity of a battery system is measured in MW for the maximum power a battery can produce daily.
There is also the 250 megawatt-peak and 100 MW BESS Dolcy Project in the same municipality as Eastervale, and the BESS-only Fiskerton Project in the U.K. with a capacity of 53 MW.
The Georgetown Project, said to be its most advanced, received Alberta Utilities Commission approval and is awaiting transmission line approval. It is expected to be ready to build in 2023.
In December Westbridge secured a $4.8 million loan to pay the security deposit for the Georgetown transmission line as part of its monetization plan.
It also has a 221 megawatt-peak project under development in Texas named Accalia Point Solar PV and the 330 megawatt-peak Sunnynook Project in Southern Alberta with 100 MW of BESS capacity.
Westbridge’s total capacity stands at 1,379 megawatt-peak of solar energy and 553 MW of BESS.
The four Alberta-based utility-scale projects in the development pipeline total one gigawatt (GW) of solar capacity, Kelly noted.
He said the journey from concept to permitting and sale of a project takes around two years, and the projects are progressing “very well.”
Westbridge started trading on the OTCQB in February 2022 and grew its market capitalization by 67 per cent year-over-year from December 2021 to November 2022, according to a company release.
Kelly said Westbridge’s stock has been “doing very well” since a reverse takeover in June 2021 which added around $4 million to the company’s treasury and another $3.4 million from the exercise of 100 per cent of the reverse takeover warrants.
It currently stands approximately $54 million market capitalization on the TSXV.
What is next in 2023
For 2023, Westbridge is concentrating on monetization, further portfolio growth and exploring the green hydrogen market.
“We’re hoping to monetize at least one to two of our projects this year by getting them through the final approval process. We’re quite close on Georgetown and Sunnynook is not far behind,” Kelly said.
Monetization was described by Kelly as a sale by which a company, utility, investor or pension fund buys a project that was developed by Westbridge.
The Sunnynook Project was expanded from 236 megawatt-peak to 330 megawatt-peak this month.
Westbridge has its sights set on expansion, particularly in the U.S. Kelly said the company hopes to develop and monetize the Accalia Project, and add one or two more projects to its portfolio. The target is two GW of solar energy within two years of its reverse takeover.
There is also a desire to move into the green hydrogen space because of its potential.
“We have some expertise on our team in hydrogen and we’re really just evaluating some of the current technologies and opportunities in green hydrogen as something that could potentially add to our mix as a renewable energy company,” Kelly said.
Westbridge is encouraged by clean energy incentives like the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in the U.S. and Canadian proposals in the 2022 Fall Economic Statement, he said.
Kelly sees the IRA as “very, very good for the renewable sector and very, very good for solar,” giving Westbridge more confidence to enter the U.S. market.
He does not see roadblocks from a potential recession or economic slowdown halting its momentum. Kelly pointed to strong support in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. for renewables. He also noted that energy projects take years to complete and people will still use energy even if there is a recession.
“Solar energy is – I’m not saying it’s recession proof – but is resilient and a longer-term play we’re comfortable with,” Scott said.
Editor's note: The company was originally said to be based in Vancouver, but is based in Calgary with its registered office in Vancouver. The approval was from the Alberta Utilities Commission, not "AC approval". Details about the reverse takeover were amended.