The Double Black Diamond Solar Project will be constructed in Central Illinois, the US. (Credit: Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay) CURRENT ENERGY
McCarthy is the EPC contractor of the project. (Credit: McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.)
The project is expected to commence operations in 2024. (Credit: McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.)

Double Black Diamond is an under construction solar project located in Sangamon and Morgan counties of Illinois, the US.

The 800MWdc/ 592.8MWac project is being developed by renewable energy company Swift Current Energy. The company will also own and operate the solar facility.

The project received approval in November 2021. It is expected to enter commercial operations by fall 2024.

The development of the facility will involve an investment of $535m.

Double Black Diamond Solar Project will be the largest solar energy project in Illinois, with the capacity to deliver renewable power to more than 85,000 households per year.

Additionally, the project is expected to generate around $100m in tax revenues for Morgan and Sangamon counties.

Double Black Diamond Solar Project details

The Double Black Diamond Solar Project will be located in a farmland on the border of Sangamon and Morgan counties in central Illinois.

The project will include the deployment of 1.6 million solar panels, majority of which will be manufactured in the US.

Additionally, the solar project will be equipped with smart solar trackers. The trackers enable solar panels to follow and rotate the sun’s movement across the sky to optimise output. According to Swift Current Energy, the trackers will increase output by 25%-30% compared to fixed tilt ones.

The construction of the solar farm began with site work.

During the construction phase, the project will provide jobs to approximately 435 craft workers by coordinating with the local unions.

The peak workforce will be active at the site for approximately 14 months starting late spring 2023.

The local unions are also facilitating apprenticeship and hiring goals for carpenters, operators, labourers, electricians, and crew leads.

Contractors of Double Black Diamond Solar Project

In March 2023, McCarthy Building Companies secured the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contract from Swift Current Energy for the Double Black Diamond Solar Project.

Under the terms of the contract, McCarthy is responsible for the design, procurement, construction, and commissioning of the solar project.

Nextracker received the contract of delivering smart solar tracker solutions for the solar project.

The 800MWdc solar modules for the project will be supplied by US-based solar panel manufacturer First Solar. In January 2022, Swift Current Energy ordered 1.2GWdc of ultra-low carbon thin film PV solar modules from First Solar. The deliveries will take place in 2023 and 2024.

Renewable energy strategy and consulting services provider Solas Energy is providing Owner’s Engineering Services (OES) and related support services for Double Black Diamond Project.

Power Supply Agreements

Clean energy company Constellation has signed a long-term agreement with Swift Current Energy to purchase a portion of the energy and renewable energy certificates (RECs) generated by the Double Black Diamond project.

In September 2022, paint and coating manufacturing company PPG Industries signed an agreement with Constellation Energy to buy energy. Through a 12-year agreement, PPG will receive clean renewable energy and RECs from Double Black Diamond Solar Project for use at its Adrian, Michigan, automotive adhesives and sealants manufacturing facility from 2024.

The Adrian facility will procure approximately 3,500 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy per year from the project. This will enable PPG to reduce its carbon footprint by more than 2,400 metric tonnes annually.

In December 2022, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company signed a 50MW 12-year agreement with Constellation.

Starting in January 2025, State Farm will receive energy and RECs from Double Black Diamond Solar Project for use at its corporate headquarters, operations centre, and other facilities in Bloomington, III.

Overall, eight State Farm facilities in Bloomington will receive 103,000MWh of energy per year (MWh), reducing the carbon footprint by nearly 74,000 metric tonnes per year.

The city of Chicago also signed an agreement with Constellation to source renewable energy for an initial five-year term starting January 2023.

As per the agreement, Chicago will partially fulfil its large energy requirements at airports, Jardine Water Purification Plant, and Harold Washington Library Centre using clean and renewable energy from the project.

By 2025, the city commits to purchase renewable power for all city operations and facilities.

The use of solar energy for city operations will enable Chicago to reduce its carbon footprint by more than 290,000 metric tonnes annually.