Beginning with site selection itself, Origis investigates potential impacts on specific local communities and the biodiversity of the location. We maintain various initiatives to mitigate the environmental risks associated with our business activities, including hiring environmental and engineering experts to early stage study sites and carrying out environmental risk assessments for each project site.
By developing, constructing, and maintaining solar power plants and energy storage assets and thus providing a reliable renewable energy source to essential public and private sector entities, our activities contribute directly to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy. Goal 7 upholds access to clean and affordable energy, key to the development of agriculture, business, communications, education, healthcare and transportation.
Since inception, Origis has invested over $4 billion in developing nearly 200 solar projects equating over 4 GW of solar power and storage capacity.
In 2022, Origis generated over 2,300 GWh of renewable energy through the assets we developed and managed under O&M contracts. Our generated renewable energy indirectly helped power over 128,000 homes, counting projects developed and constructed in addition to those currently managed. Between 2021 and 2022, Origis added 0.16 GW of energy generation capacity and 0.03 GW of energy storage capacity in terms of assets developed, fully operational, and under O&M contract.
Moreover, in 2022, Origis deployed $340 million in capital expenditure as part of an ambitious growth strategy, and began operating three new sites.
Origis maintains a number of pre-existing initiatives aimed at preserving and upholding biodiversity at our project sites, including protecting sensitive areas during construction, adopting vegetation management strategies for native plants, avoiding the use of harmful herbicides, and planting pollinator gardens.
As applicable, we assign projects a baseline “Pollinator Score” during project development, often using state- or regional-specific scorecards, with the objective of maintaining or increasing that score once the project becomes operational. While solar is rightly perceived to take up a lot of land space, it is incorrectly assumed the land is non-productive. Origis’ scientific approach utilizes site-specific pollinator scoring and implementation methodologies.
One example is Origis’ Citrus Ridge (FL Solar 5) site, which provides renewable energy to Walt Disney World. In 2022, the site was awarded the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign’s (NAPPC) Pollinator Electric Power Award for co-locating solar with a pollinator habitat. The pollinator habitat at the site has been used by over 40 native species of pollinators, among 1,000 species of flora and fauna.
At site level, we continue to maintain storm water and soil erosion control protocols in anticipation of potential extreme weather events. Hail mitigation and other damage control measures for operating sites are continuously improved.
Our Origis Services team employs operations and maintenance strategies best suited to the twin goals of energy generation and environmental stewardship at each site, including the management of soil erosion, stormwater runoff, and chemical handling procedures. Where automation can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we are testing solutions which may include soiling, vegetation control and other advances.
Our use of chemicals to maintain vegetation is kept at a minimum. As an environmentally diligent organization, Origis is careful to minimize any use of herbicides.
Some industry companies use chemicals, including soap products, in panel washing procedures. Origis does not. The company uses heated water in panel washing to avoid seepage of any chemical components into the water supply.
Solar panels have what’s called an encapsulant, which is essentially a glass surface. Those glass surfaces have AR coatings that can be very sensitive to different chemical compounds. For the health and the productivity of the panels, it is not best practice to use chemicals even gentle, environmentally-sensitive detergents or soaps, because it can damage the panels, and run off the panels into the ground.
Origis uses mechanical panel washing systems. Those systems use an inline heater to heat the water. Because the water is hot, it helps to strip off any materials on the panels that could degrade production. Any water is then put back into the environment and regenerated through the natural systems.
Leading with respect and sensitivity is always step one at Origis. Recognizing disadvantaged communities deserve a special approach is at the front of the Origis’ development process. The Origis team has specific experience in places with very high environmental justice concerns, such as Hawaii, Mississippi, Florida, and elsewhere. Beginning with site selection itself, Origis takes note of potential impacts on specific local communities. Environmental Justice related practices are deployed via our Tier 1 Permitting Consultants and experience here is part of our team formation decision process. Similar to our Tribal Relations approach, Origis seeks to maintain specialists with specific Environmental Justice experience to assure our neighbors are both heard and understood where needed. While not new, we continue to expand our Environmental Justice activities.