Mitsubishi enters US solar market with Nexamp deal

Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi Corporation has become the latest big player to move into the US solar market, taking a "near majority" stake in Boston-based developer Nexamp.

Mitsubishi becomes the largest shareholder in Nexamp, which specialises in building and operating commercial-scale PV systems in the US northeast, and also claims to be a "recent leader" in the community solar market.

Mitsubishi made the undisclosed investment via its US subsidiary Diamond Generating Corporation (DGC), marking the unit’s first foray into solar and adding to its existing portfolio of wind and thermal plant assets.

DGC said it plans further expansion across the US following the deal. "Solar is one of America's fastest growing sources of new power generation and we intend to take a leadership position in the sector alongside our Nexamp team, which we consider among the very best in the industry," said DGC CEO Satoshi Hamada.

Nexamp was founded in 2007, has developed about 50MW to date and also offers O&M and financing services. “For its part, by engaging in the distributed solar power generation business as Nexamp's main shareholder, Mitsubishi Corporation sees this new challenge as part of its overall aim to maximise corporate value through business expansion and the transformation of its business models,” said Mitsubishi in a statement announcing the Nexamp deal.

Mitsubishi said the move into distributed solar reflects “notable changes” in the US energy market.

“The low price of solar panels, coupled with incentives implemented by the federal and state governments, has also given rise to the proliferation of small-sized distributed solar power systems installed on the rooftops of homes and commercial buildings or on idle land.

“All these new initiatives contribute to the reduction of retail energy costs for end-users, including general households, one of the biggest trends in the energy business today.”

Mitsubishi is far from the only major player to see potential in the US C&I solar space, especially when the potential to link PV generation with storage for commercial users is factored in.

French energy majors EDF and Engie have both made significant acquisitions in US distributed solar and storage this year, with deals for groSolar and Green Charge Networks respectively.

Duke Energy – the largest US utility – last year bought a majority stake in California-based C&I specialist REC Solar, which Recharge last month revealed is poised to make a push into new markets along the East Coast.