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Large-scale solar developers see promise in C&I, distributed solar market

Enable Energy Rooftop and Canopy ProjectCredit: Enable Energy

Two announcements this week show that larger renewable energy developers, particularly large-scale solar developers, are looking to expand their operations into smaller-scale project development.

Global renewable energy developer BayWa r.e. said on Wednesday that it has acquired Enable Energy Inc. (EEI), a U.S.-based commercial and industrial (C&I) solar and energy storage solutions provider that provides engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and operations and maintenance (O&M) support.  

The acquisition is the latest move in BayWa r.e.’s growth and expansion strategy in the Americas, it said. With 750 megawatts (MW) of solar and wind projects under construction in California, North Carolina, Texas and Mexico, BayWa r.e. will pass 1 gigawatt (GW) of utility-scale installations in the Americas by the end of 2020. The addition of EEI’s pipeline will push BayWa r.e.’s total pipeline of solar and wind projects to more than 5 GW in the region.

BayWa r.e. sees multiple synergies resulting from the acquisition of EEI, in particular those resulting from its capabilities in serving enterprise C&I customers and utilities. EEI’s full-service operations and maintenance support, as well as its national leadership in commercial and utility-scale energy storage solutions, also enhance BayWa r.e.’s offering to its own global key accounts, said the company.

“The addition of EEI to the BayWa r.e. Americas family will create multiple collaborative opportunities with our existing businesses and improve our position in strategic regional and vertical markets, such as commercial solar-plus-storage,” said Axel Veeser, Managing Director, BayWa r.e.

EEI has worked with local and regional businesses, Fortune 500 companies and federal government entities on a variety of projects in California, Hawaii and other locations to build more than 76 MW of rooftop and ground-mount commercial, industrial, and utility solar projects since the company was founded in 2014. EEI has also emerged as a leader in the behind-the-meter and front-of-meter energy storage EPC sectors, with completed installations of over 70 megawatt-hours (MWh) in 2019 alone. 

In related news, Kinect Solar, a solar equipment distributor announced that it will be selling First Solar series 6 modules to distributed solar project developers. Arizona-headquartered First Solar is America’s largest PV module producer, shipping over 25 gigawatts (GW) of solar technology to over 45 countries around the world, exclusively for large-scale projects.

With the new partnership, First Solar’s high-performance thin-film modules are now available for US DG projects through Kinect Solar.

Lauren Carson, Kinect Solar CEO, emphasizes that this partnership will “allow developers and EPCs in the DG sector to access First Solar innovation and quality at a previously unattainable scale. The pairing of First Solar’s cutting-edge technology with Kinect’s expertise in distribution, logistics, and customer service will benefit customers throughout the solar industry.”

Darin Green, First Solar’s Senior Director of Business Development, states: “We are excited to work with Kinect Solar to help bring First Solar’s utility-grade quality and execution certainty to the DG market. Kinect Solar can engage a diverse set of customers with the robust support and technical expertise required for success in distributed markets. Critically, Kinect can offer clients an unmatched customer-centric experience that arms DG solar players with the confidence to bid and build projects on schedule at the agreed upon bin and price.”