Indian solar power producer Azure Power has sold its rooftop solar business in a deal worth INR5,365 million (US$73.5 million).
The deal, Azure said, would allow it to refocus its efforts on more profitable areas, specifically utility-scale solar project development.
Azure has sold its 152.5MW capacity rooftop portfolio to Radiance Renewables, a subsidiary of Indian climate fund the Green Growth Energy Fund (GGEF) which is managed by Everstone Group firm EverSource Capital and specialises in commercial, industrial and residential solar projects.
The vast majority of the portfolio is operational, but it also includes 8.1MW of solar installations under construction and a pipeline of 18.5MW project capacity.
Azure Power’s total operational solar capacity surpassed 2GW earlier this year, rising 10% year-on-year even despite the company’s problems sourcing solar modules throughout 2020. This feat helped the independent power producer (IPP) to reach operating revenues of INR3,540 million (US$48.2 million) for the three months ended 31 December 2020, rising by more than 15% year on year.
The rooftop solar portfolio itself earned Azure Power INR331 million (US$4.5 million) in EBITDA in the 12 months to the end of December 2020, according to the company’s financial results.
Azure Power’s chief executive, Ranjit Gupta, said the sale “illustrates the company’s commitment to capital discipline”, and will enable the executive team to streamline the business’ operations by instead investing in solar projects that will provide higher returns. “Our focus is on the creation of shareholder value”, he said.
The deal comes just as 2021 is set to be a “landmark year” for solar deployment in India as the country’s developers and IPPs recover from COVID-19-ubduced project delays. A recent report from analyst JMK Research & Analytics found that just 2.6GW of new utility-scale solar was added in India last year, a 65% decline in growth year-on-year.
Azure Power’s project commissioning was hit particularly hard by the impacts of COVID-19, stating last year that “no significant commissioning” activity took place during the first quarter of the 2020, with just 1MWac/3MWdc having been commissioned in that time.
However, JMK’s report added that the country’s solar industry is set to rebound this year, and almost 10GW (9.7GW) of large-scale capacity is expected to be commissioned by December 2021.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the government is “devoting great importance to solar energy” as part of India’s transition from fossil fuels to renewables.
Manikkan Sangameswaran, executive director of Radiance Renewables, said its acquisition from Azure Power will position the company as a “significant player” within India’s commercial and industrial (C&I) solar sector, lending it access to long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) with “quality customers based on net metering” as part of the build out of its distributed solar power generation platform. He added that Radiance would introduce “cutting edge” asset management tools including real-time system monitoring to position it as a key player in the country’s solar sector.
“This transaction allows Radiance to bring its high quality asset management skills to improve asset performance given its focus on enhancing and delivering value to its stakeholders,” he said.