Business Achievement: Growth

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ICF International for continuing the rapid expansion of its climate impacts and adaptation practice. In 2015, ICF secured a five-year, $30 million contract with the National Coordination Office of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the federal agency program charged with managing climate science and communicating it to the public, as well as writing periodic National Climate Assessments. ICF will support USGCRP in four areas related to climate and the environment: science, informing decisions, assessment and communications and education.

ICF also won new climate adaptation and resilience business in 2015 from the City of Philadelphia, Climate Central, USAID and Millennium Challenge Corporation. With the addition of 2015 projects, ICF has now worked for over a dozen U.S. Government agencies on climate issues.

Notable ICF climate projects completed in 2015 include: States at Risk, America's Preparedness Report Card, a ranking of all 50 U.S. states on their readiness for climate change (for Climate Central); Toward a Climate-Ready Philadelphia, a report outlining how the city can address its major climate challenges, heat waves and flooding; a Vulnerability and Risk Assessment for Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's regional rail network; and a climate change and extreme weather modeling toolkit for the Airport Cooperative Research Program.

A mangement, technology and policy consulting firm, ICF generated $1.05 billion in revenue in 2014, and $851 million in revenue for the nine months ending September 30, 2015.

SCS Engineers for achieving 50% growth in GHG management and mitigation service for this sector in 2015. A long-standing leader in consulting engineering for the solid waste industry, SCS has developed a growing business helping clients in that sector comply with GHG regulations, including federal EPA inventory and reporting requirements and California's AB 32, under which solid waste operators are required to analyze-and in many cases mitigate-the GHGs associated with landfill expansions and other major projects.

In addition to preparing GHG inventories and analyses and mitigation plans for the solid waste sector, SCS verifies the emissions inventories of clients in electric power, oil and gas, food processing, ethanol production and other types of manufacturers. SCS also verifies GHG offset projects involving ozone depleting substances, dairy manure methane, coal mine methane, rice cultivation, organic waste composting and (for project sponsors who aren't SCS consulting clients) landfill methane.

At the end of 2015, SCS Engineers' revenue from these business lines was on track to grow from $5.2 million in 2014 to $7.8 million in 2015, according to estimates shared with CCBJ. SCS Engineers generated total revenues of $155 million in 2014.

First Solar, the vertically integrated manufacturer, developer, builder and operator of solar PV power plants for its growth in 2015 and its robust 3.7 GW pipeline of projects in various stages of development. The Tempe, AZ, based company reported 2014 revenues of $3.4 billion and saw its revenues for Q2 2015 grow by 43% to $1.27 billion from 2014, driven by sales of its interest in the under-construction Desert Stateline project and higher than expected revenue from three other power plants.

While the growth story in solar PV for several years has been distributed generation, First Solar concentrates on utility-scale power plants, which are lower cost and easier to manage for grid operators. First Solar's Vision 2020 strategic plan focuses on international geographic expansion into markets it believes have a compelling need for "mass-scale PV electricity," including the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

Driving down the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE)-net present value of total life cycle costs of a PV solar power system divided by the energy it's expected to produce-from its PV plants is the heart of First Solar's competitive strategy. In a June 2015 speech to the Edison Electric Institute, CEO Jim Hughes said the firm regularly bids on utility power purchase agreements at 5 cents and 6 cents per kWh. "We're beginning to see 4- to 5-cent [solar] power [and] I fully believe that within 10 years we'll be talking about low-3-cent power on a peak basis."

One wild card in First Solar's hand is how the extension of the 30% investment tax credit (ITC) for U.S. solar PV installations will affect its ability to compete with distributed PV. Prior to the extensions passed in December 2015, First Solar was anticipating that its cost advantages would be more prominent in a post-ITC world. Now that the ITC is in place for many more years, the firm's cost advantage will be less significant.