UPDATE 3-NextEra beats profit estimates on beefing up clean energy projects

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(Adds quotes, forward forecast)

Oct 20 (Reuters) - U.S. energy company NextEra Energy Inc on Wednesday reported a better-than-expected rise in adjusted quarterly profit, as it added more than 2,000 megawatts (MW) of new projects to cater to surging demand for cleaner energy sources.

The company, which is the world's largest producer of wind and solar energy, shot to prominence last year when it briefly overtook ExxonMobil Corp in market value to become the largest U.S. energy firm, marking the growing importance of renewable energy to investors.

NextEra and other renewable energy firms are also set to benefit from the Biden administration's clean energy plan, which includes making federal lands cheaper to access for solar and wind power developers.

The company's clean energy business, NextEra Energy Resources, had a record quarter of origination success, adding about 2,160 MW to its backlog, including about 1,240 MW of new wind projects, marking the best-ever quarter of wind additions, 515 MW of new solar projects and 345 MW of new storage.

"We're really excited about the value proposition of renewables looking forward, both in terms of being low cost and the ability to decarbonize both the electricity sector and other sectors," NextEra CFO Rebecca Kujawa told analysts, noting the company still has "significant capital dollars to put to work" in the renewable space.

Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra said adjusted earnings at its clean energy business rose 12.3% to $619 million. Profit at its Florida Power & Light Co electric utility, which serves more than 5.1 million customers, rose nearly 10% to $836 million.

"We will be disappointed if we are not able to deliver financial results at or near the top end of our adjusted earnings per share expectations ranges in 2021, 2022 and 2023," NextEra said in a statement.

The company posted adjusted earnings of $1.48 billion, or 75 cents per share, for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with $1.31 billion, or 67 cents per share, a year earlier.

That beat analysts' average expectation of 71 cents per share.

Looking ahead, NextEra said it expects adjusted earnings per share to be in the range of $2.40-$2.54 in 2021, $2.55-$2.75 in 2022 and $2.77-$2.97 in 2023. (Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru and Scott DiSavino in New York; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Ramakrishnan M. and Andrea Ricci)

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