Solarcentury expertise to help Statkraft ‘step up’ solar ambitions, CEO says

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Christian Rynning-Tønnesen, CEO at Statkraft. Image: Statkraft.

The acquisition of Solarcentury and its PV project pipeline represents a “big step up” for Statkraft as it looks to become one of the world’s leading renewable companies in the next five years, CEO Christian Rynning-Tønnesen has said.

Norwegian state-owned utility Statkraft announced the £117.7 million deal yesterday that will give it access to a 6GW solar pipeline in Europe and South America – complementing its 14.4GW of installed hydropower capacity and 1.6GW of wind.

“We are getting a company that is more competent in solar than we are ourselves,” Rynning-Tønnesen told PV Tech.

In a move to double down on utility-scale projects, UK-headquartered Solarcentury offloaded its residential solar unit earlier this year. The company has since secured funding for two facilities in the Netherlands, has been awarded development rights for three projects in Chile as part of a tender in the country and made its debut in Greece with the purchase of 284MW of solar projects. 

In its most recent full-year financial results, in which it posted record profit levels, Solarcentury said its integrated business model with five revenue streams allowed it to hedge against a short-term slowdown in development activity due to challenges related to COVID-19.

Reports originally emerged in April 2019 that Solarcentury was exploring a sale. Asked whether the pandemic has disrupted the acquisition process, Rynning-Tønnesen said it has “probably had some time effect, but little effect on price”.

Alongside Statkraft’s existing generation capacity, Rynning-Tønnesen said there is an “obvious strong combination” where the company can have flexible production by joining hydropower with the intermittency of solar and wind. The combination of all three technologies “will give a fully renewable and totally reliable” generation, he added. While acknowledging the strong potential to combine solar with storage, the CEO said the company is been primarily focusing on its PV portfolio for now.

The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of 2020, and while there will be it will be an interim period in which Solarcentury could be kept as an isolated company, it will eventually be integrated into Statkraft. 

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