The year-end solar installation reports for the U.S. were a bit of a downer, but private funding in solar across the globe is up year over year, according to Mercom Capital Group’s 2017 Q4 and annual report on funding and merger and acquisition (M&A) activity for the solar sector. Total global corporate funding into the solar sector, including venture capital/private equity (VC), debt financing, and public market financing came to $12.8 billion (B), compared to $9.1B raised in 2016.
“A strong fourth quarter pushed overall funding higher in 2017. Higher installation levels around the world, the lack of threat to the solar investment tax credit, lower than expected tariff recommendation by U.S. ITC, strong debt financing activity, and over a billion dollars in securitization deals helped the solar industry have a much better year in terms of financial activity compared to 2016. After several challenging years, most of the solar securities were up in 2017 reflecting overall positive sentiments around the solar industry even as several Chinese manufacturers decided to go private. Of course, all this could change swiftly if President Trump decides to impose higher tariffs in the trade case,” commented Raj Prabhu, CEO and Co-Founder of Mercom Capital Group.
Global VC investments came to $1.6B in 99 deals in 2017, up from $1.3B in 78 deals in 2016.
Solar downstream companies accounted for $1.4B in 2017. Thin-film companies raised $106 million (M), service providers raised $47M, PV technology companies raised $40M, Balance of Systems (BoS) companies raised $36M, concentrated solar power companies raised $8M and concentrator photovoltaics companies received $6M.
The top VC/PE deals reported in 2017 were all over $100M. Five of the top six VC funding deals came from India. 162 VC/PE investors participated in funding rounds in 2017, eight with multiple rounds: Engie, Avista Development, DSM Venturing, InnoEnergy, Innogy, International Finance Corporation, Shell, and Techstars.
Public market financing in 2017 reached $1.7B in 33 deals. Three IPOs were logged in 2017 for $363M: Canadian Solar Infrastructure Fund, New Energy Solar Fund, and Clenergy. Debt financing totaled $9.5B in 2017. There were six securitization deals in 2017 totaling $1.3B. For the first time, securitization deals surpassed $1B.
Announced large-scale project funding in 2017 reached $14B in 167 deals, compared to $9.4B in 133 deals during 2016.
A total of 161 investors funded about 20.5 GW of large-scale solar projects in 2017 compared to 5.9 GW funded by 153 investors in 2016. The top investors in large-scale projects included Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), Santander, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and Siemens Financial Services.
$2.4B was raised by 16 residential and commercial solar project funds in 2017, compared to $4.9B by 30 funds in 2016. Since 2009, solar residential and commercial funds raised more than $24.8 billion.
There were 71 corporate M&A transactions in 2017, solar downstream companies accounted for 51. The largest was the $1.6B acquisition of FTP Power (sPower).
There was a record 228 large-scale solar project acquisitions in 2017 for more than 20.4 GW.
Mercom tracked 922 large-scale project announcements world-wide totaling 50.1 GW in 2017.
— Solar Builder magazine