Published on June 29th, 2020 | by Zachary Shahan0
10 Bonus Solar News Stories
June 29th, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
There was plenty of positive solar energy news this month. Aside from the 63 solar stories we’ve published so far, below are 10 more stories that seem worth looking at even though we didn’t take time to explore them in detail.
1. Vivint Solar (NYSE:VSLR) closed a deal on $545 million in additional financing. “The first is a $245 million upsize to the company’s already existing multi-lender revolving warehouse facility closed in 2019, for a total of $570 million in aggregate commitments. The second is a $300 million hold-co loan facility provided by the Brookfield Infrastructure Debt Fund, a global credit-focused platform managed by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. (NYSE: BAM).”
“These transactions raise a significant amount of liquidity against our existing assets, provide for future debt capacity, and demonstrate our ability to access the capital markets for financing at a competitive cost of capital as we navigate the impacts of COVID-19 to our business,” said Thomas Plagemann, chief commercial officer and head of capital markets for Vivint Solar. “Given the continued uncertainty in the capital markets, we feel the approach we have taken provides an excellent combination of all-in cost of capital and advance rate, with flexibility to access the securitization markets as they fully recover. It is also an indication of our investors’ continued confidence in Vivint Solar’s sustainable growth model and we are very pleased to be entering into a relationship with an experienced and highly reputable renewable energy investor such as Brookfield.”
2. Toledo Solar, a rooftop CdTe solar panel manufacturer that has started up in First Solar’s backyard in Ohio. Historically, the only large CdTe solar firm has been First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR), and it focuses on large-scale installations — mostly utility-scale solar power plants — as the tech has not been particularly competitive for rooftop solar. In fact, Toledo Solar says it will be the only CdTe solar company serving both commercial and residential rooftop solar markets.
Toledo Solar “claims to have more than $800 million in purchase orders already. Production has already begun at the plant with an estimated 100 MW of annual capacity and 25 current employees. Company reps said the employee force should expand to 70 by year’s end. By 2026, Toledo Solar expects to be producing 850 MW of panels annually, the company said in a press release.”
“The timing is right to launch this solar venture. Reliable CdTe solar manufacturing was born here in Toledo Ohio. Solar Cells Inc. and their partners at the University of Toledo created CdTe solar films in the 1990s. The technology was then successfully commercialized by industry leader First Solar,” said Toledo Solar’s Chief Technology Officer Dr. Alvin Compaan. “With several decades of collective experience in CdTe, a well-developed supply chain combined with the region’s rich knowledge of CdTe thin film manufacturing, we could not be situated better geographically.”
3. Poland scored its largest solar power deal to date recently, with a 122 MW solar power portfolio of small-scale solar projects developed by R.Power being sold to UK asset manager Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI).
“In a statement, the duo did not shed light on the deal’s price tag but explained the 122MWp portfolio comprises small-scale solar plants, with 130 individual systems included in the transaction. The installations are mostly located across Poland’s west and centre, the firms said.
“Under its new owner ASI, the 134GWh-a-year solar fleet will enjoy contracts-for-difference (CfD) support for 15 years. ASI – which has signed off on five other solar transactions in Poland prior to this – described the country’s regulatory framework as ‘supportive’.”
4. In general, Poland is being seen as a hot solar market this year. For years, it has been a solar laggard, but 2019 had a surge in installations and there are big hopes for 2020 and coming years.
“According to a report published earlier this month by Poland’s Institute of Renewable Energy (IEO) the country’s total installations at the end of 2019 stood at 1,500MW, an increase of around 900MW on the previous year’s total. By May 2020 that figure had risen by a further 450MW and, according to IEO, by the end of this year could reach 2.5GW.
“The main driver of Polish solar’s recent successes is the small-scale self-consumption or ‘prosumer’ segment, which accounted for 70% of all capacity installed by the end of 2019 and will continue to be an important part of the market for the rest of 2020.
“But from next year, the IEO report said large-scale solar farm projects awarded contracts in auctions held in 2018-19 will start to come on stream, helping propel the market to an estimated 7.8GW by 2025. That would take it beyond the total capacity assumed in Poland’s 2030 National Plan for Energy and Climate, according to the IEO.”
I have friends in Poland with solar roofs and one with a solar installation company. Basically, it’s not cost-competitive (you save money over time) to go solar. The biggest barrier for faster growth is most likely consumer awareness and solar companies needing time to scale up.
5. Best Buy just had a 103 MW solar power plant completed for it in South Carolina by X-Elio with financing from U.S. Bank. The project, Best Buy Solar Field, “will produce enough energy to power 260 Best Buy stores annually.”
“The solar field will contribute 6% toward the electronics store’s 75% carbon reduction goal. The project was first announced in Best Buy’s latest environmental, social and governance (ESG) report, Doing a World of Good.”
6. Duke Realty (NYSE:DRE) is about to become New Jersey’s largest host of community solar power projects. Duke Realty is “the largest domestic-only, pure-play logistics property REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) in the United States” and it now plans to “host solar projects covering nearly 1 million square feet of roof space across four of its New Jersey industrial sites through a partnership with Solar Landscape.”
Support for these projects came from New Jersey. “The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) selected the four projects, totaling 11.07 megawatts (MW), as the first of 77.61 MW of solar power awarded in year one of its three-year Community Solar Energy Pilot Program.
“The allocation represents more than 29% of rooftop solar awarded in the program’s first year. When completed, the combined projects will make Duke Realty the largest community solar project host in New Jersey and deliver more than 250 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of renewable electricity to the community over the next twenty years.”
7. Panasonic (OTCMKTS:PCRFY) has extended its “industry-leading warranty” on solar panels, a 25 year warranty, and now includes a warranty on “labor on all components of the residential solar system, including the monitoring and interconnection hardware and racking system.” The company also recently expanded its warranty to cover labor on Enphase (NASDAQ:ENPH) microinverters.
8. A new kWh Analytics Solar Risk Assessment report provides covers certain solar photovoltaic (PV) generation risks based on data. “This report includes articles from industry experts in solar production risk including Clean Power Research, kWh Analytics, Wood Mackenzie, RadianGen and more.”
9. Greentech Media reports that “Investment in commercial and industrial (C&I) solar seems to be holding up in Africa as the COVID-19 pandemic dents investor confidence across the continent, insiders have said.
“The Sun Exchange, a South African peer-to-peer solar leasing platform, has had its busiest period ever during the ‘peak pandemic’ period from February to May this year, said Abraham Cambridge, founder and CEO.
“The company, which is four years old, completed 11 of its cumulative 31 C&I solar installations this year, he said.”
10. PetersenDean, one of the nation’s top solar panel installers and roofers, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this month. However, Greentech Media notes that the company was losing market share for a while.
“The company’s leads had dropped nearly 70 percent between March and April, PetersenDean told Greentech Media in late May. In the next month, the declines continued, with leads dropping 87 percent from March to May, although the month had not yet ended when the company offered up this figure.”