Sunrun in triple acquisition spree

Sunrun has acquired the residential business of California-based REC Solar, a leading US module installer, putting itself even more squarely in competition with SolarCity within the fiery US residential rooftop PV market.

Sunrun will also acquire AAE Solar, a wholesale PV distributor, and SnapNrack, a mounting systems business, all three companies bought from privately owned Mainstream Energy Corp.

REC Solar was already a major installation partner of Sunrun, which competes with the likes of SolarCity, SunPower and BlackRock-owned Vivint in the booming third-party ownership sector in the US.

REC Solar, based in San Luis Obispo, is not to be confused with the identically named Singapore-based REC Solar, which was spun off from Norway’s REC Group last year.

Despite being a major player in the US third-party ownership solar sector, privatey-held Sunrun has relied on downstream partners like REC Solar both to generate customer leads and to install modules.

Owning REC Solar will put the company directly in front of homeowners for the first time.

REC Solar held a nearly 3% share of the US residential PV installation market last year, according to GTM Research.

The acquisitions represent the next step in Sunrun’s “multi-channel growth strategy”, says chief executive Lynn Jurich, adding that the deal will “lay the foundation [for Sunrun] to become a major energy company”.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

REC Solar broke its businesses up to ready itself for the sale, and will continue targeting the commercial rooftop sector as an independent company.

Despite the company’s claims to the contrary, many analysts believe San Francisco-based Sunrun may launch an initial public offering sometime this year.

Shares in rival SolarCity – which were launched at less than $10 apiece in late 2012 – currently trade at more than $70, giving the company a significantly larger market capitalisation than US module giants First Solar and SunPower.