SunEdison’s US rooftop expansion ‘validates rapid growth’ in market

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Expansion strategies into the US residential market announced yesterday by SunEdison are a “validation of the rapid growth” of the country’s household solar market, according to one investment bank.

Yesterday evening, SunEdison, holder of the unofficial title of ‘world’s biggest renewable energy developer’, announced that it will roll out an approach to the residential solar market that was begun on a more limited basis last year. The company will greatly expand its residential and small commercial offering, having targeted key regions in the US, Australia and the UK last year.

PV Tech’s sister publication, the UK-focussed Solar Power Portal website, reported SunEdison’s interest in the UK market back in October 2014 and the company launched a power purchase agreement (PPA) backed deal for British homeowners at no upfront cost at the beginning of March this year. Speaking to Solar Power Portal a few weeks after the launch, Alessandro Ceschiat, SunEdison’s general manager for Europe, said the company was “exploring all options” in the UK.

SunEdison will now launch residential and small commercial PPAs in the US, which will be secured against tax equity financing provided by financial services company Morgan Stanley. SunEdison has also acquired LightWing, a turnkey advisory and development company for utility companies and so-called retail energy providers that are looking to add solar to their existing energy business.  

Initially targeting seven US states, projects acquired and developed will be owned by SunEdison’s yieldco, TerraForm Power. SunEdison will also partner on sales with Evolve Solar, a residential PV system reseller, which has agreed to exclusively sell SunEdison products and plans from now on.

Commenting on the news, analysts at RBC Capital Markets, an investment house and part of the Royal Bank of Canada, said SunEdison was expected to leverage its new asset in LightWing to broaden its customer base. RBC also said lead generation, sales and service channels would be done both in house at SunEdison and through its new and existing partnership, while leaving the actual installation work to its partners.

RBC analyst Mahesh Sanganeria and associate Shawn Yuan highlighted rapid advancement in SunEdison’s residential and small commercial sector work, stating that of 39MW of such projects undertaken by the company in 2014, the vast majority, 24MW, was installed in the final quarter of the year. Previous targets issued by SunEdison for 2015 installations stood at over 200MW of projects at residential and small commercial scales.

“We view today’s announcement as a validation of the rapid growth in the US residential solar market,” RBC’s analysts said.

“We believe SunEdison will be able to quickly scale its residential solar business by leveraging existing SunEdison platform and global resources.”

SunEdison will host a conference call to run through its earnings for the first quarter of 2015 on 7 May at 8:30am Eastern Time.

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