There appear to be big changes in the Australian operations of US renewable energy giant SunEdison, with the head of its local offshoot stepping down and rumours of potential job cuts swirling in the local solar market.
Jeremy Rich, the founder of Energy Matters, which was sold to SunEdison last year to become its base in Australia, has stepped down. He is believed to have been succeeded by former SunPower executive Wilf Johnston.
Rich co-founded Energy Matters a decade ago, and took it to be one of the top four solar companies in Australia. It was sold to SunEdison last year for a total of $18.4 million, consisting of $3.1 million in cash and “contingent consideration” valued at $14.0 million.
His departure comes almost exactly one year after the purchase, and as SunEdison beds down a multi-billion dollar spending spree in the last few years, including the purchase of solar retailer Vivint and First Wind.
In July, when it bought Vivint, Sun Edison hinted that it wanted to expand rapidly in Australia.
“The transaction expands SunEdison’s strong (residential and commercial solar) platform and is intended to accelerate SunEdison’s existing business in the United States , United Kingdom and Australia,” it said in a statement at the time.
It is now believed to be the biggest developer of renewable energy in the world, but recently it announced widespread job cuts – of between 10 and 15 per cent – as it sought to bed down its purchases and control costs.
It closed the UK-based Mark Group in October, just three months after purchasing it, because of announced cuts to the solar subsidy in the UK.
The Australian operations were thought to have been immune to the global job cuts, but there have been rumours in the market that it will now be affected. A SunEdison spokesman in the US refused to comment, but one local source said there were no job cuts in the wind, although there was a focus on “margins and cost control.”