PV Intelligence Brief 1 – 13 January 2015

Lightsource adds 5.1MW to UK portfolio

As part of the plan, Lightsource has reported that new hedgerow has been...

PV Intelligence Brief 1 – 13 January 2015

Companies mentioned: Lightsource Renewable Energy, Mercom Capital, NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd, SunEdison, Adani Enterprises, Exosun, Yingi, WWF, juwi Renewable Energies, Mulilo Sonnedix Prieska PV project, Sonnedix, Acero Capital, Acumen Fund, DBL Investors, E.ON, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Novus Energy Partners, Omidyar Network, SolarCity, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, Trident Capital, Vision Ridge Partners and Vulcan Capital

Lightsource adds 5.1MW to UK portfolio

Lightsource Renewable Energy has added another 5.1MWp of installed capacity to its rapidly growing operational portfolio with the connection of Westwood Solar Farm, in Nottinghamshire. Situated between the villages of Kirton and Tuxford, the solar farm is set across 21 acres and is capable of powering around 1,110 local homes.

In addition to the generation of clean energy, a land management plan has been put in place for the ongoing care of the solar farm site to ensure maximum benefit to the local environment, Lightsource reported.

As part of the plan, new hedgerow has been planted around the site featuring native species of field maple, hawthorn and hazel which will enhance screening around the site and establish new foraging habitats for wildlife. Wildflowers and species-rich grass sown around the solar farm site and bird nesting boxes installed in surrounding trees will also create a welcome boost to local biodiversity.

Kareen Boutonnat, Managing Director at Lightsource Renewable Energy, said: “Early 2015 will see a strong focus on development for Lightsource as we stride towards our impressive 1 Gigawatt milestone. With a growing team of more than 350 in-house professionals and funding already secured, we are perfectly placed to deliver new projects swiftly and with same high standards we have come to expect.”

Lightsource contracted specialist EPC contractor, Biosar Aktor to construct this solar farm and the company will be retained on an operation and maintenance contract.

Kareen concludes: “The UK solar industry continues to develop at pace and, while the past few years have not been without challenges, the hard work has been paying off and we continually affirm our position as the UK’s market leader in solar power.”

Solar funding up 175% at $26.5bn thanks to capital markets

Total corporate funding injected the solar sector encompassing venture capital/private equity (VC), debt and public market financing increased 175 percent in 2014 with $26.5bn, compared to $9.6bn in 2013, according to Mercom Capital research.

In addition to corporate funding, global VC investments were reported to have more than doubled to $1.3bn in 85 deals in 2014, compared to $612m in 98 deals in 2013.

“The big story coming out of 2014 was the revival of capital markets - solar companies were able to access funding through multiple avenues like VC, public markets, IPOs and debt in record numbers, while the quest for lower cost of capital continued with Yieldcos and securitization deals. The solar sector has come a long way from being perceived as a speculative high risk investment to attracting investors based on low risk attractive dividend yields,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group.

Solar downstream companies saw the largest amount of VC funding in 2014 with $1.1bn in 44 deals, accounting for 85 percent of venture funding. Investments in PV technology companies reached $75m in 12 deals and Balance of Systems (BoS) companies were close behind with $73m in seven deals. Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) companies came in at $59m in three deals, followed by thin film companies with $52m in nine deals.

India launches competitive bids for 3GW of grid solar

India has plans to add 3GW of grid-connected solar power projects through competitive bidding as part of the country’s National Solar Mission, it has been reported.

Comments on the guidelines can be submitted to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy by Jan. 12, according to the draft. The guidelines suggest companies can bid through state governments at a fixed 25-year tariff.

The minimum recommended project size is 10 megawatts, according to the draft. Selection will be based on the lowest quoted tariff.

NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd., the power-trading unit of India’s largest utility, may purchase the electricity produced. The National Solar Mission seeks to deploy 20 gigawatts of grid-connected projects by 2022 in three phases.

SunEdison, Adani earmark $4bn to India PV plant

SunEdison and Adani Enterprises,  the largest port owner and operator and largest private power provider in India, have reported that they have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a joint venture to build the largest vertically integrated solar photovoltaic manufacturing facility in India with an investment of up to $4bn (Rs. 25,000 crore).

The facility will create enough solar panels to fuel substantial solar growth in India, furthering India's goals for clean, renewable energy independence, and will add up to 20,000 jobs to the local economy.

"We are proud to partner with Adani Enterprises to build the largest solar photovoltaic manufacturing facility in India. This facility will create ultra-low cost solar panels that will enable us to produce electricity so cost effectively it can compete head to head, unsubsidized and without incentives, with fossil fuels," said Ahmad Chatila, President and Chief Executive Officer of SunEdison.

The infrastructure partnership will help create 4,500 direct jobs and over 15,000 indirect jobs in the process.

"India has embarked on an ambitious program to become a world leader in power generation from renewable technologies, and sees solar as a key part in realizing that goal," said Vneet S Jaain, Chief Executive Officer of Adani Power Limited, a subsidiary of Adani Enterprises Ltd.

The new facility will be constructed in Mundra, Gujarat, India, over a three year period. This facility will vertically integrate all aspects of solar panel production on site, including polysilicon refining, and ingot, cell, and module production.

Rehabilitation of brownfields; Exosun bags four PV deals in France

Exosun, a solar tracking technologies company for utility-scale ground-mounted solar plants, has signed agreements with three major players in the renewable energy field to supply trackers for four new PV plants in France.

These solar plants, totalling 20 MW of installed power, will allow to rehabilitate four brownfields: two will be installed on landfills, another one on an abandoned gravel pit, and the fourth one on a derelict industrial site.  The sites are expected to produce a total of 28,300 MWh annually, enough electricity to power close to 10,000 homes.

The plants will be equipped with Exosun’s Exotrack HZ horizontal single-axis solar trackers, motorised structures that orient photovoltaic panels toward the sun throughout the day, to significantly increase solar plant output in comparison to fixed-tilt structures.

To address soil settlement, typical of landfills, Exosun developed a new adjustable foundation system. This product adaptation preserves the integrity of waste containment, while guaranteeing optimum solar tracking.

Juwi South Africa to build plant in Northern Cape

South African subsidiary, juwi Renewable Energies, is to build the Mulilo Sonnedix Prieska PV solar park in the Northern Cape Province with South Africa for Independent Power Producer (IPP) Sonnedix.

The PV power plant has a total generation capacity of 86MW. Financial close was achieved on December 11, 2014. The commencement of construction is scheduled for the first quarter of 2015.

For the juwi group, the utility-scale project in the Northern Cape is the company’s largest single solar EPC-project in the world. juwi is also providing Operation and Maintenance services for the plant.

Over the past years, juwi Renewable Energies has realised four utility-scale PV projects in South Africa and has built up a great reputation as a leading specialist for green energies in the country.

The Prieska project was selected by the Department of Energy of South Africa under the third bidding window of the national Renewable Energy Procurement Programme in October 2013.

“We are also proud that our efforts in designing the economic development aspects of the project brought the desired outcome”, Austin continues. Of all six projects in bidding round three, the Mulilo Sonnedix Prieska PV solar park had the highest economic development score. juwi will also provide Operations and Maintenance services for the plant.

Commenting on the closing, Franck Constant, President of Sonnedix said: “This first closing in South Africa is a considerable milestone for our company. It confirms the growth strategy and added value of Sonnedix in new markets where clean renewable electricity is in high demand and cost effective compared to conventional power.”

Innotech Solar makes strategic move with Energiebau deal

Innotech Solar, a Scandinavian German PV module maker, has reported that it has made a strategic investment with the purchased assets of Energiebau. The deal marks another sign of continuing consolidation in the solar market.

The new company will be called Energiebau Solar Power GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of Innotech Solar AS. Specific details of the transaction have not been disclosed by either company.

The company Energiebau, founded in 1983, filed for preliminary insolvency due to the difficult market situation at the end of October 2014. The insolvency administrator Dr. Andreas Ringstmeier confirmed on 6th January 2015 the takeover by Innotech Solar.

The previous management of Energiebau, Michael Schäfer and René Médawar, will continue to run the business operations of the new company, as well as the cooperation with energy utilities, and the project activities in African countries.

One of the immediate benefits of the deal will be the expansion of the newco’s German and international sales activities.

Jerry Stokes, CEO of Innotech Solar, said: "Through introducing Innotech Solar modules to the large and well established customer base of Energiebau we can look forward to further strengthening our market position, especially in Germany. Moreover, we are now able to offer the full range of PV system components to our existing Innotech customers."

"We are pleased that we have succeeded in finding a strategic investor with a strong fit to our own business in a difficult market environment, " said Energiebau founder and CEO Michael Schäfer.

He added: "A constructive cooperation with the insolvency administrator and the committed support of staff and partners enabled the preservation of the Energiebau brand and of a majority of jobs.”

Sunnova takes the prize for big funding in 2014

Sunnova Energy, a provider of residential solar service to homeowners through its network of local installation partners offering leases and PPAs, was among the top five venture capital funded companies in 2014, raising a total of $505m in three separate deals.

According to Mercom Capital research other companies that attracted sizeable funding include Sunrun, a provider of residential solar-power systems and third party finance, which raised raising $150m; Renewable Energy Trust Capital, a finance platform established to acquire and own solar projects and provide a single equity capital source, brought in $125m Sungevity, a provider of residential solar installations and third party finance, raised $72.5m; and GlassPoint Solar, a provider of solar steam generators to the oil and gas industry for applications such as Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), raised $53m.

A total of 119 VC investors were active in 2014, with 12 investors participating in more than one round in 2014 including: Acero Capital, Acumen Fund, DBL Investors, E.ON, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Novus Energy Partners, Omidyar Network, SolarCity, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, Trident Capital, Vision Ridge Partners and Vulcan Capital.

Public market financing increased considerably to $5.2bn in 52 deals in 2014, up from just $2.8m in 39 deals in 2013. In 2014 seven IPOs brought in more than $2bn combined including, Vivint Solar, Scatec Solar, Thai Solar Energy and Sky Solar. Yieldcos accounted for three of the IPOs for $1.5bn going to Abengoa Yield, Terraform Power and NextEnergy Solar Fund.\

Public markets draw $20bn to solar sector across 38 deals

Announced debt financing in 2014 totalled almost $20bn in 58 deals, compared to $6.2bn in 38 deals in 2013. China accounted for $15.8bn of the debt activity, according to Mercom Capital research.

Large-scale project funding announced in 2014 totalled $14.2bn in 144 deals.  The largest project funding deal announced in 2014 was the $942m loan raised by China WindPower Group for a portfolio of projects totaling 800 MW. Top investors in large-scale projects were Mizuho Bank with 12 projects and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ with 10 projects.

Residential and commercial funds showed strong growth in 2014 with 34 announced funds totalling $4bn. SolarCity, SunPower, Vivint Solar, SunEdison and Syncarpha Capital were top fundraisers in 2014.

Corporate M&A activity in solar totalled $4bn in a record 116 transactions compared to $12.7bn in 81 transactions in 2013.

Consolidation still active in 2014

Consolidation activity continued among solar downstream companies, it has been reported, with 57 transactions followed by manufacturers and equipment companies with 35 transactions.

In a bid to vertically integrate, SolarCity made the most acquisitions in the last five years with seven, followed by First Solar and SunPower with six apiece.

The largest M&A transaction in 2014 was the $1.2bn acquisition of Hanwha Q CELLS Investment by Hanwha SolarOne, followed by Bluestar Elkem’s acquisition of REC Solar for  approximately $637m. Danfoss acquired a 20 percent stake in SMA Solar Technology for $416m; SolarCity acquired Silevo for $350m and Solargise acquired a majority stake in Grapp Energies for $200m.

This month it was reported that Innotech Solar, a Scandinavian German PV module maker, has made a strategic investment with the purchased assets of Energiebau. The deal marks another sign of continuing consolidation in the solar market.

Fosun, United Photovoltaics to jointly acquire solar plants 

United Photovoltaics Group, whose largest shareholder is China Merchants New Energy Group, has entered into an investment agreement with Fosun Industrial Holdings Limited to jointly acquire solar power plants.

Pursuant to the Cooperation Agreement, Fosun Industrial will subscribe for 7.5% three-year convertible bonds in the principal amount ofUS$15m (equivalent to approximately RMB93m) issued by the company, at the conversion price ofHK$1.03.

The proceeds from which will be used to acquire a 20MW solar power plant project.

As a wholly owned subsidiary of Fosun International, Fosun Industrial is principally engaged in the businesses of insurance, industrial operations, investment and asset management.

Fosun International is one of the largest privately owned conglomerates in China. As of the date of the announcement, Fosun International beneficially owns 70.924 million shares, representing approximately 1.63% of the issued share capital of the company, and certain convertible bonds due 2016 in the principal amount ofUS$35m.

TerraForm Power acquires 26MW in distributed solar power in $47m SunEdison deal

TerraForm has acquired 21 U.S. distributed generation (DG) solar power plants comprising 26 MW from SunEdison through a series of transactions valued at $47m.

The 21 power plants have long-term contracts with an average remaining life of 20 years. The portfolio has high quality counterparties including municipalities, schools and businesses and is geographically diverse, with plants located in seven US states. These assets are expected to increase annual CAFD by approximately $5m on an unlevered basis.

TerraForm has funded the purchase of these call right projects with cash on hand, the companies reported.

"This transaction furthers TerraForm's leadership in the DG market segment – which is one of the most profitable and fastest growing clean energy market segments," said Carlos Domenech, President and Chief Executive Officer of TerraForm. "In addition, DG is a flow business that delivers consistent growth for our shareholders."

"We are pleased to announce that together with TerraForm, we have exceeded our goals for the projected 2014 drop downs," said Brian Wuebbels, Chief Financial Officer at SunEdison.

Yingli Green Energy exceeds expectations to reduce greenhouse emissions 

Solar panel maker Yingli Green Energy has reported that it has exceeded its targets to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the end of 2013 as part of its membership commitments in the World Wide Fun for Nature Climate Savers programme, according to internal inspections report.

Initiated by WWF in 1999, Climate Savers is a global leadership platform which positions multinational corporations at the forefront of the low-carbon economy. In January 2013, Yingli officially became the first Chinese company and the first PV manufacturer to join the Climate Savers programme.

In May 2014, the Company began internal inspections to ensure it met its aggressive emission reduction targets. Using 2010 GHG emissions as a baseline, the inspection results demonstrated that Yingli: Decreased its GHG emissions intensity per MW of PV module production by approximately 22% in 2013, as compared to its initial target to reduce emissions intensity by 13% by the end of 2015; Decreased GHG emissions from purchased goods and services per MW of PV modules production by approximately 12%, as compared to its initial target to reduce emissions by 7%; and Decreased its GHG emissions from upstream transportation by approximately 17%, as compared to its initial target to reduce emissions by 10%.

As part of its membership in Climate Savers initiatives, Yingli also targeted for renewable energy to account for at least 4% of the total energy comsumption in the production of its PV modules by the end of 2015.