Fallen US solar giant SunEdison has sold its rooftop solar assets in India, but uncertainty continues to hang over the fate of the Australian operations, although it is believed that more than a dozen local and international players are circling the company.
The fate of SunEdison Australia and its 75 Australian staff has been up in the air since the parent company – then the largest renewable energy company in the world – was placed in bankruptcy in April after over-reaching in an aggressive expansion and acquisition campaign.
SunEdison established its operations in Australia after buying out the local business Energy Matters, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. It is one of the largest installers in Australia, specialising in residential and commercial installations, as well as the wholesale market.
Its installations include 3.7MW of rooftop solar on 41 locations for BUPA, and the construction of a 1MW solar project with storage at Karratha airport. It has also pushed into the battery storage space with distribution agreements with Tesla, Sonnenbatterie and Enphase.
A sale of the company had been expected to be completed already, but continuing delays in the process has thrown open the bidding again.
The Australian market has been active, with the collapse of Go Energy and Metro Solar , and the recent purchases of majority stakes in solar wholesalers One Stop Shop by Chinese giant GCL Poly for $7.1 million and Solar Juice by another Chinese company SPI for $25 million.
Jeremy Rich, the founder of Energy Matters, stepped down late last year and was succeeded by former SunPower executive Wilf Johnston. Rich co-founded Energy Matters a decade ago, and helped it become one of the top four solar companies in Australia. It was sold to SunEdison for a total of $18.4 million, consisting of $3.1 million in cash and “contingent consideration” valued at $14.0 million.
Meanwhile, UK renewable energy investment company Ingenious Clean Energy is canvassing opportunities in Australia, looking for solar projects of 5MW that it can purchase on behalf of its retail investor client base.
Ingenious Clean Energy are looking to build a substantial portfolio of solar assets in Australia over the next 2-3 years.
The solar market in Australia is predicted to expand dramatically in coming years as costs fall well below the $100/MWh and as purse strings and power purchase agreements are loosened up as retailers aim to meet their renewable energy target obligations, and as corporate buyers also enter the market.
Giles Parkinson is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the former editor of Climate Spectator.