10 percent of Houston’s electricity now coming from solar

houston solar

The City of Houston and ENGIE announced that ENGIE’s 50 MW SolaireHolman plant is now on line, operational, and capable of providing up to 10.5 percent of the city’s electricity needs for the next 20 years under a power purchase agreement. This agreement solidifies the city’s status as the largest municipal purchaser of renewable energy in the United States.

Located in Alpine, Texas, SolaireHolman, developed and implemented jointly by ENGIE subsidiaries Solairedirect North America and ENGIE North America, is one of the largest solar installations in the state of Texas. The project includes 203,840 solar panels on 360 acres and will provide electricity for Houston locations as diverse as the Hermann Park Zoo, the Bob Lanier Public Works Building, wastewater treatment plants, and several Bush Intercontinental Airport terminals.

“I want to thank ENGIE and all those who worked on this project for this fabulous Earth Day present,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “As the energy capital of the world, it is important that Houston lead by example and show that investing in solar and renewable energy is a critical tool cities must use to prepare for the future. As the nation’s largest municipal purchaser of green power, we are living proof that large, industrial cities like Houston can have a robust economy but also help fight climate change.”

RELATED: Solar CenTex to start installing the Powerstation 247 solar+storage system in Texas 

“We’re very proud to serve the City of Houston, a national innovator and substantial customer by any measure,” said Marc-Alain Behar, Managing Director for Solairedirect North America. “One of the most gratifying parts of our work at ENGIE is aligning with customers to provide the best value we can.

Through SolaireHolman, the City of Houston will strengthen its energy portfolio with clean, low-cost solar power for the benefit of all the people who live and work in this vibrant community. What an excellent way to usher in Earth Day 2017.”

The SolaireHolman plant solidifies the City of Houston’s national leadership in renewable energy and growing use of solar energy. For the past two years, the City has ranked #1 in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Top 30 Local Government list of the largest green power users from the Green Power Partnership. Houston is also #7 on EPA’s overall Top 100 green power users. The City uses nearly one billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, which represents more than 89% of its total energy needs.

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar industry’s total 2015 corporate funding exceeds $25 billion

solar corporate funding

Mercom Capital Group LLC, a global clean energy communications and consulting firm, released its report on funding and merger and acquisition (M&A) activity for the solar sector in 2015. Total global corporate funding in the solar sector, including venture capital/private equity (VC), debt financing, and public market financing, raised by public companies came to $25.3 billion, compared to $26.5 billion in 2014.

“Overall it was a good year for the solar sector considering the turbulence in the stock markets and trouble with yieldcos in the 2nd half of the year,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group. “The extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was a much needed boost for the sector, paving the way for a strong 2016.”

solar mergers and acquisitions

Global VC investments came to $1.1 billion in 83 deals in 2015, compared to $1.3 billion in 85 deals in 2014.

solar corporate funding

Solar downstream companies accounted for 69 percent of the VC funding in 2015, with $727 million of the $1 billion raised. Investments in PV technology companies came to $173 million and Balance of Systems (BoS) companies raised $87 million. Thin-film companies brought in $44 million, service providers raised $15 million, and the CPV and CSP categories each raised $3 million. Over $100 million in VC funding went to companies focused on off-grid markets in Africa, India, and South Asia.

RELATED: Average residential solar prices $3 to $4 per watt, commercial $2 to $3 

Among the Top 5 VC deals in 2015, the largest was the $300 million raised by Sunnova Energy, followed by the $105 million raised by Silicor Materials. Sunlight Financial raised $80 million and Sungevity raised $50 million. Completing the Top 5 was Conergy, which raised $45 million.

solar 2015 funding

There were 109 active investors in 2015 with 14 involved in multiple rounds. The 14 were DBL Partners, Infuse Ventures, Bamboo Finance, Clean Energy Venture Group, DOEN Foundation, ENGIE Rassembleurs d’Energies, Hudson Clean Energy Partners, International Finance Corporation, Kohli Ventures, Longwall Venture Partners, MTI Partners, Parkwalk, Tenaska and University of Oxford.

Despite a weak fourth quarter, public market financing had its strongest year with almost $6 billion raised in 38 deals, compared to the 2014 record of $5.2 billion in 52 deals. There were seven IPOs bringing in a total of more than $1.8 billion including Sunrun, Xinte Energy, CHORUS Clean Energy, SolarEdge Technologies and Grenergy Renovables. Yieldcos raised $1.1 billion in two IPOs, TerraForm Global Yieldco and 8point3 Energy Partners.

Debt financing in 2015 totaled $18.3 billion, slightly down compared to $20 billion in 2014. More than half of the debt funding raised came from China, $10.9 billion in 33 deals. There were four securitization deals in 2015, totaling $335 million, by Solar City, SunRun, BBOXX and AES.
Announced large-scale project funding in 2015 exceeded $11.6 billion in 124 deals this year, compared to 2014 in which $14.2 billion was raised in 144 deals. A total of 145 investors funded about 6.6 GW of large-scale solar projects this year.

solar industry investment

Top investors were Santander with 12 projects, Rabobank with nine projects and CIT Bank, Credit Agricole and KeyBank with six projects each.

It was a record year for dollars raised in residential and commercial solar project funds in 2015 with 23 funds announced for a combined total of $5.5 billion, compared to the $4 billion raised in 34 funds in 2014. SolarCity, Sungevity, Onyx Renewable Partners, Sunlight Financial, Brite Energy and Kilowatt Financial were top fundraisers in 2015.

“With the ITC extension, we predict third-party owned financing companies will continue to raise residential and commercial funds in large numbers,” commented Prabhu. Since 2009, third-party owned financing firms offering lease, PPA and loans have raised more than $17 billion.

RELATED: Top U.S. companies increase solar installs by 59 percent 

Corporate M&A transactions in the solar sector in 2015 came to more than $3 billion in 80 transactions, compared to 116 transactions in 2014 for over $4 billion. Solar downstream companies had the greatest number of acquisitions with 49 transactions. SPI Solar acquired four companies and Global EcoPower acquired three companies. The largest disclosed transaction was the $1 billion acquisition of an 80 percent stake in Gestamp Asetym Solar from Gestamp Renewables by KKR, an investment firm.

There were a record 204 large-scale solar project acquisitions for over 12.7 GW, double that of 2014 where 6.4 GW changed hands in 163 transactions. Spurred by yieldcos, 2015 has been by far the best year for solar project acquisitions.

solar industry transactions 2015

Mercom also tracked 373 large-scale project announcements worldwide in Q4 2015 totaling 12 GW and 1,118 project announcements totaling 41.1 GW for 2015 in various stages of development globally.
To learn more about the report, click here.

— Solar Builder magazine

sPower Purchases Solar Project from Solairedirect

sPower, a prominent renewable energy provider, will be collaborating with Solairedirect to develop and own/operate solar photovoltaic (PV) projects in the U.S. Solairedirect is a growing solar company operating across four continents. As a first step, sPower will purchase a 26.5MWdc project named Adera from Solairedirect. The utility scale project, near Fresno, Calif., in Madera County, will be designed and built by Solairedirect USA Inc. and then owned and operated by sPower.

sustainabilityGroundbreaking on the Adera facility is scheduled for 2Q 2015, with the commercial operation date (COD) expected mid-December 2015. The project has a 20-year PPA with Southern California Edison (SCE).

“We’re pleased to team with best-in-class companies like Solairedirect,” said Steve Creamer, Executive Chairman and CEO of sPower. “The Solairedirect group shares our vision to develop projects that not only move the renewables industry forward, but that also supports our community partners. The Adera facility will provide local jobs and economic benefits while supporting a sustainable future for the area.”

When fully operational, the Adera facility will generate enough clean, renewable energy for nearly 3,000 homes and is expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 31,000 metric tons annually – the equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions from 75 million miles driven by an average car.

sPower is headquartered in Salt Lake City, with offices in San Francisco and New York City and owns and/or operates more than 150 utility and commercial distributed electrical generation systems across the United States and the UK. sPower is actively buying renewable assets in any stage of development in North America and the UK.

Solairedirect is a solar power company operating across four continents. Founded in 2006 with the mission of making solar power more competitive than other energy sources, Solairedirect has developed a distinctive scalable business model as a 100% solar power company with the aim of creating value all along the value chain from development to construction, services and investment.

— Solar Builder magazine