EDF Renewables has set the seal on a strategic deal to complete its takeover of US commercial and industrial (C&I) solar player EnterSolar, in which the French renewables developer first took a 50% stake in 2018.
The move, part of an ongoing diversification at EDF away from a “wind-centric” asset portfolio to include more PV, energy storage and electric vehicle charging infrastructure, comes as the C&I space is expected to rebound after the economic sideswipe resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Completing this acquisition was always ‘plan A’ but it is also part of a broader plan to diversify EDF from being a very wind-centric company, if you looked at us ten years ago, to a truly all-renewables player that as active on ‘both sides of the metre’ and goes from [C&I] and utility scale solar all the way to offshore wind in the gigawatt-scale,” Raphael Declercq, EDF Renewables’ EVP for distributed solutions and strategy, told Recharge.
“There is overlap between EnterSolar’s customer base”, which include brands such as Amazon, Chanel, PepsiCo and Asics, “and ours on the utility-scale side too – companies like Amazon will procure [power] globally and locally, to maximise the harvest of solar they can make,” he added.
By EDF’s forecasts, US C&I, after a slow-down during the pandemic, is set to return to a trajectory heading for 2GW all-in.
“The potential here is very large, as only between 3-10% of this market has so far been tapped,” said Declerq, with EDF angling at taking a 60MW slice of the annual C&I installation in the near-term, rise to 90MW/year over time.
“As battery costs going down, you can imagine [C&I] customers will soon be using their [renewable energy generation] assets in an aggregative way to serve ‘other customers’ when it is not disturbing [their demand requirements],” said Declerq.
“We want our customers to be able to greenify their power, whatever the source, whatever the use.”
Peyton Boswell, managing director of EnterSolar, stated: “The acquisition allows EnterSolar to fully leverage EDF Renewables’ experience in grid-scale renewable energy and our solid track record in developing behind-the-meter PV projects in order to become the preferred provider of distributed generation solar solutions to the corporate marketplace.”
The US clean-energy market landscape under President Joe Biden is foreseen being “sunnier” than it was under anti-renewables Donald Trump, Declerq added, though he noted: “We made the part-acquisition under Trump assuming four more years of his administration, so now we have the ability to leverage what we have [with EnterSolar as part of EDF] and grow with the market.
“[Biden’s policies] are going to be helpful but more, we are going to be able build momentum that will not be stopped by an administration that is doing all the little things to slow [the energy transition] down.”