12 October '10
9:06 AM UTC
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Renewable Energy Veterans Go Public With Solar Startup

A group of veteran renewable energy executives have launched a solar startup that has secured more than 1,000 megawatts of development acreage across California. Read More »

18 March '09
12:48 PM UTC
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Recurrent Energy to buy rival’s 350 MW project pipeline

San Francisco-based solar developer announced on Wednesday that it will purchase a 350-megawatt project portfolio from . The two private companies  have not disclosed terms of the deal.

The assets are either on the drawing board or further along in development and are located across the U.S. and in Canada, mostly in Ontario.

The deal comes as cleantech companies are wrestling with a credit freeze that makes it nearly impossible to fund projects. Although the federal stimulus is expected to change that, it could be a while before these funds reach developers. This has forced some of them to sell key assets as a way to raise cash.

About the acquisition Recurrent CEO Arno Harris says the ongoing economic crisis has created a buyers market. He tells Green Wombat:

“Since the financial crisis set in last year we’ve kept an eye out for opportunities to pick up a pipeline of projects. You’re seeing companies like Recurrent that are well-capitalized take advantage of the market consolidation.”

The deal follows First Solar’s $400 million acquisition of the 1,850-megawatt development pipeline of Silicon Valley developer OptiSolar, including a 550-megawatt plant it is developing in Central California for Pacific Gas and Electric. This month Spanish developer Fotowatio bought projects from MMA Renewable Ventures for $19.7 million.

Unlike some of its peers Recurrent is cash-rich thanks to a $75 million capital infussion last July from clean energy-focused private equity fund Hudson Clean Energy.

The deal gives Recurrent an entry in the Ontario clean energy market and its lucrative feed-in tarriffs for solar generation projects. for more on that, see here.

Current says it will finance and develop the UPC project and expects to have 100 megawatt come online by 2012.

7 March '09
11:14 AM UTC
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The week in green energy

With the U.S. economy showing no sign of bottoming out — on Friday the government announced that a staggering 651,000 jobs disappeared from the economy in February –  the credit crunch is not likely to fade anytime soon.

And so with no fresh capital in sight, clean energy companies looking for investment capital are selling the family jewels.  That’s what Municipal Mortgage & Equity did on Monday when it announced the sale of its clean energy subsidiary, MMA Renewable, to Madrid-based developer Fotowatio.

“The capital needs of the business, coupled with our need to address corporate liquidity concerns make this a prudent time to sell the business,” explained MuniMae ceo Michael Falcone in announcing the sale.

The $19.7 million deal gets Fotowatio 35 megawatts  worth of  operational solar plants; 400 megawatts of projects under development and marks the Spanish developer’s third U.S. acquisition in seven months.

Also on Monday, — often the preferred day for a deal announcement — First Solar, a Tempe, Arizona maker of photovoltaic cells, snapped up the rights to develop utility-scale solar projects from rival OptiSolar in an all-stock transaction worth $400 million.

The deal acquisition gives First Solar a footing in the lucrative utility market. This is quite a reversal for OptiSolar, which just a year ago had inked a landmark agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric for the development of its 550 megawatts  in Central California. But unable to secure financing to  develop the project, which included the construction of a solar cell manufacturing plant,  last November the Silicon Valley company  was forced to lay off half of its work force.

Besides Topaz, First Solar gets a project pipeline totalling  300 megawatts  and  federal land claims  on 136,000 acres (55,000 hectares) in the Southwest desert that could support 19,000 megawatts in potential generation. OptiSolar is not totally exiting the cleantech business as it plans to continue to manufacture solar cells and is in talks with the government for financing.

Google also took central stage in the energy policy debate this week when, at an industry conference in Santa Barbara, Calif., CEO Eric Schmidt his company’s ambitious U.S. energy plans, saying corporate America “needed to take a stand,” arguing that the issue of climate change is as crucial to Google’s economic success as it is to the nation’s.

He also said companies should not be deterred by current economic conditions.  “Change occurs when people are scared. This is the time to have this conversation,” he said. Google’s energy plan calls for enacting a national renewable portfolio goal of 30% by 2030.

While Schmidt called for bold investments, BP went the other way, announcing steep cuts in its clean energy investments, which it said would hover between $500 million and $1 billion in 2009, from $1.4 billion in 2008. CEO Tony Hayward said the tightening investments would support wind projects in Europe and the U.S. — not in Asia — as well as biofuel refineries in Brazil.

Also, of note this week was Alliant Energy’s decision not to build a fourth coal-fired unit at one of its plants in Iowa; Joseph Budano joining Energy Innovations as the new CEO of this solar tech company; and  Jean Wilson joining SunPower to head the company’s North American utility and power plants division.

In Washington, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, on Thursday, introduced legislation that will overhaul the national electricity grid. If passed into law the legislation would bypass local regulators and allow the President to declare areas with great potential to generate electricity from the sun or wind as “renewable energy zones.”

The rules are likely to fuel strong debate with advocates of states’ rights. Already state utility regulators responded cautiously to the Reid proposal, urging  that federal and States governments should work in concert and not “as adversaries.”

2 March '09
4:51 PM UTC
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MuniMae sells renewable energy assets

Municipal Mortgage & Equity has agreed to sell a portion of its renewable energy business for $19.7 million to Fotowatio Renewable Venture, a unit of the Madrid-based and operator of  solar generation projects.

As part of the deal MuniMae has agreed to sell the assets of its  MMA Renewable Ventures subsidiary which includes 35 MW worth of solar projects that are currently in operation, including a 14-MW plant at the Nellis Air Force base in Nevada.

The MMA purchase is  Fotowatio’s third in the U.S. in the past seven months and will provide it more than 400 MW of projects under development.

The ongoing credit freeze, prompted the sale, said MuniMae CEO Michael Falcone.

“Because of the difficulty raising capital in the current market environment our renewable energy production has been decreasing. The capital needs of the business, coupled with our need to address corporate liquidity concerns make this a prudent time to sell the business.” he explained in a written statement.

Founded in 2004, Fotowatio, which last year  raised $350 million from GE Energy Financial Services and Spain’s Grupo Corporativo Landon,  plans over the next three years to invest up to $3.2 billion in Europe and the U.S.