Revamped Conergy targets 'yieldco-crazed' US market

A revamped Conergy plans to take advantage of the “yieldco-crazed” US solar market this year, building and selling projects to other investors, as it looks to a possible future IPO.

Once among the world’s highest-profile renewables companies, with business spanning solar, wind and bioenergy, Conergy, based in Hamburg, Germany, slid into insolvency during the PV industry’s downturn in 2013.

The company's subsequent restructuring saw the Conergy brand name and most of its downstream development and sales units sold to Kawa Capital Management, a Miami-based asset management firm. China’s Astronergy bought the company’s 300MW module plant in Germany.

Since being acquired by Kawa, a now-profitable Conergy has quietly forged ahead in a number of downstream markets. It built 300MW of utility-scale capacity last year, and plans to put up 450MW around the globe in 2015.

Of that 450MW, some 85% will come from utility-scale projects, new chief executive Andrew de Pass tells Recharge.

The commercial and industrial rooftop segment will account for most of the remainder, alongside some residential installations in the UK.

While Conergy is positioning itself as an alternative to players like SunEdison, its current focus does not include in-house ownership of generation assets. “[Our] current strategy is development, EPC and O&M, in both ground-mount and rooftop solar segments,” de Pass says.

The company wants to “control the megawatts” it builds, meaning selling projects just before construction or perhaps after they reach commercial operation – with Conergy staying on to perform the EPC and O&M work.

“We may keep some solar assets on our balance sheet and move towards an asset ownership model if our management and board believes this will enhance shareholder value,” de Pass says.

“In this yieldco-crazed market, combined with aggressive hedge fund buying of solar assets ... there are plenty of buyers for our projects.”

No longer in the manufacturing business, Conergy claims a 4GW global project pipeline. It is targeting a broad range of growth markets for solar energy, including Japan, the Philippines, Mexico, Chile, Central America, Turkey and Africa.

Meanwhile, the company remains active in its historically core market of Europe. Shortly after being acquired by Kawa, Conergy bought Wirsol Solar UK and its portfolio of utility-scale projects in the UK, and the company has partnered with RWE to target the German C&I rooftop market.

Under Kawa's ownership, Conergy, like a growing list of solar developers, is eyeing a possible IPO in the future.