- The backlog of renewable energy projects that NextEra expects to construct over the next few years grew by about 1,450 MW in the third quarter and now exceeds 15 GW, more than the total current renewables portfolio of its wholesale generating subsidiary, NextEra Energy Resources, the company announced during its Q3 earnings call on Wednesday.
- NextEra Energy Resources is also venturing into the green hydrogen space, aiming to replicate the approach it has used in building its renewable energy portfolio. "Consistent with our toe in the water approach to new opportunities, Energy Resources has developed a pipeline of approximately 50 potential green hydrogen projects spanning the power, transportation and industrial sectors," Executive Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Kujawa said on the call.
- Duke Energy recently rebuffed a merger advance from NextEra, though the combination does have advantages for both companies, some analysts have said. The potential merger did not come up during Wednesday's call.
NextEra's investment in renewables has helped it become the most valuable power company in the U.S., recently passing ExxonMobil in terms of market capitalization. To continue capitalizing on the broad trends driving the sector, it's also making a multi-pronged foray into green hydrogen.
The company's hydrogen projects "serve a variety of end uses, and similar to the strategy employed in wind, solar, battery storage and other areas, provide the opportunity to develop early learnings with relatively small investments to set the stage for much larger capital deployment as cost declines and technology improvements are realized," Kujawa said.
NextEra expects to add to its hydrogen project pipeline over the next several quarters, Kujawa said, adding that the company remains "excited about hydrogen’s long-term potential to further support future demand for low-cost renewables, as well as accelerate the decarbonization of transportation fuel and industrial feedstocks."
In July, the company announced plans to build its first hydrogen production plant. The plant will be powered by solar energy and the hydrogen that results will replace some of the natural gas at Florida Power and Light's Okeechobee power plant.
The company sees "hydrogen as really a long-term solution, particularly if we end up in 100% decarbonized energy policy by 2035, where hydrogen could really be the solution for that last 10% to 15% where it gets very expensive to do with batteries, much cheaper and more manageable to do with hydrogen," John Ketchum, president and CEO of NextEra Energy Resources, added on Wednesday's call.
In terms of current renewable and storage growth, NextEra added 580 MW of new wind, 911 MW of solar and 594 MW of battery storage since its previous earnings call and expects to put more than 5,200 MW of wind and solar projects into service this year, Kujawa said.
But while it added almost 2,200 MW of signed contracts to its renewables backlog, NextEra also saw about 750 MW removed from its pipeline, mostly due to an unfavorable ruling by Alabama regulators on several solar plus storage projects. The result is a net backlog increase in Q3 of nearly 1,450 MW.
NextEra's total renewable energy portfolio, including existing capacity and signed projects, now totals about 28 GW.
With the election only two weeks away, one analyst asked about the potential impacts of a Biden win.
NextEra expects to succeed no matter who wins on Nov. 3, Kujawa said, noting that the company has done well across its businesses in recent years under the current environment.
"So, should Trump win a second term, we would expect to continue our strong momentum and continued focus on our strategies and execution on them. If Biden is the new President, he has ... made clear ... across the Democratic platform, that they had strong support for renewables," she said.
On Q3 financial results, Kujawa said NextEra Energy Resources had adjusted earnings of $551 million or $1.12 per share, an increase of about 23% over "last year's comparable quarter results." Parent company NextEra Energy reported Q3 earnings of $1.311 billion, or $2.66 per share, an 11.7% increase over the $1.163 billion or $2.39 per share in the year-ago quarter.