PCL Construction’s solar division has its eye on the sky

Dive Brief:

  • Edmonton, Alberta-based contractor PCL Construction has seen major growth in its solar division, both in terms of profit and staff size.
  • The division eclipsed more than $500 million in revenue last year, an almost 60% increase from 2020, according to a release. PCL’s solar sector team also nearly doubled in the same time period, growing from 119 employees to 214.
  • Rodolfo Bitar, the business manager for PCL’s solar division, expects demand to remain strong for solar projects and said solar work is key to helping PCL grow as a company. 

Dive Insight:

With U.S. headquarters in Denver, PCL has solar operations in six states and three countries, according to the release, and while the company has presences around the world, its largest sector is in the U.S. Bitar expects the company’s U.S. expansion to continue, as the market continues to swell with investment.

“Government support for renewable energy here in the U.S. is definitely significant and opens the door for a lot more products and opportunities,” Bitar said.

Some major PCL solar projects include:

  • Travers Solar Project: A nearly 700-megawatt, direct current solar project worth $700 million located in Alberta, Canada. It’s the largest solar facility ever built in Canada and is being constructed by 750 workers. 
  • McKellar Solar Project: A 95-megawatt direct current facility in Madison County, Tennessee. It will be one of the largest solar facilities in the Tennessee Valley once it is completed.
  • Shakes Solar Project: An 1,800-acre facility in Texas that can generate 270 megawatts of direct current that is sent via 138-kilovolt transmission line to a substation more than 16 miles away. It will be complete by the end of 2022, and is currently one the largest solar facilities PCL has constructed in the U.S.

Next year, Bitar believes that the company will be able to have anywhere from six to eight solar projects under construction at any given time. The bulk of its solar work — about 75% of it — is in the U.S., while 15% of its work is in Australia, and 10% is in Canada.

The U.S. is a booming market for solar energy, further buoyed by recent legislation. The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act sets aside $500 million for renewable energy, and the Biden administration in July also announced $56 million to advance solar manufacturing

Additionally, as the catastrophic effects of climate change tear through the world and the Paris Agreement deadline to halve emissions by 2030 looms, companies are becoming more cognizant of how they want to generate their energy. 

“The demand for high-performing solar facilities will only increase in the coming years as the world transitions away from carbon-producing forms of energy generation,” said Andrew Moles, PCL director of solar, in the press release.

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