US solar giant SunEdison has confirmed its purchase of Australian solar installer Energy Matters, continuing the growing incursion of US solar companies into the Australian market.
The long-rumoured purchase of Energy Matters – flagged here – comes as the US company prepares to launch a major initiative on solar leasing, after securing $70 million of finance from the Clean Energy Finance Corp. The Australian company, whose brands also include Apollo Energy and Sunlock, has informed customers in the past week of the purchase.
SunEdison will inject $46 million of its own funds to roll-out the financing initiative, which aims to open up a range of new finance products that include leases and power purchase agreements. Other US companies to come into the Australian market include Sungevity, which operates a leasing business and is looking to challenge incumbent retailers, and SunPower, which is now a 42 per cent shareholder in Diamond Energy.
CEFC chief executive Oliver Yates said in July that the introduction of SunEdison into the Australian market will provide a boost to both the growing commercial sector and the residential sector.
SunEdison’s newly established Australian businesses will originate, design, install, own, operate and maintain the solar PV systems and lease them, or sell the power (depending on the contract) to customers, working with local partners.
“People will be buying electricity rather than panels,” Yates told RenewEconomy in an interview with RenewEconomy at the time. “People will be selling electricity price advantage over the long term, rather than up front cost solution.”
SunEdison is at the forefront of numerous innovative projects. It is building a 70MW solar plant for a copper mine in Chile, where solar projects need no subsidy due to the high cost of electricity.
It is also selling electricity from a 150MW solar plant to Austin Texas based utility for 5c a kilowatt hour – a record low contract (although that price is assisted by tax incentives).
More recently, SunEdison said production developments on poly-silicon – a key ingredient for efficient solar panels – meant that it could likely reduce the cost of a 400w rooftop solar panel to around 40c/watt.
That is a significant reduction in the cost of solar modules, and one that could bring the cost of solar electricity to below 10c/kWh in the best solar areas. That compares to grid costs three times that much – or five times that much in peak times on time-of-use tariffs.
“Solar energy is at a transformational moment in time and innovative technology is what will power that transformation,” said Ahmad Chatila, CEO of SunEdison, said last month.
“Our latest advance is a leap forward in solar technology and will enable solar power to become the lowest cost energy solution – not just an alternative to other renewables, but the cost-winner over fossil fuels as well.”
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