The year is winding down but the dealmaking in solar may just be heating up. This week, we had a major manufacturer take a step closer to going private, an energy storage product launch, and some deals that are a good sign for 2017. Here's what you need to know about solar this week.
Trina Solar takes a step toward going private
On Friday, Trina Solar (NYSE:TSL) announced that 97.7% of shareholders voted to approve an offer led by management to take the company private for $1.1 billion. On the surface, this appears to take it closer to being bought out and shares should be trading close to the $11.60-per-share offer price. But this isn't a done deal yet.
It's no surprise that shareholders voted for a deal that will give them a return greater than 20% in short order. What's uncertain is if management can get the financing needed to complete the buyout. Trina Solar's fortunes have gotten worse since Aug. 1, 2016 when the deal was announced, mainly because of a 25% decline in solar module prices and rising interest rates, which lead to lower project values.
For now, the market is skeptical that the buyout will actually take place in the first quarter of 2017 as planned. We'll see in the next few months who is right.
Solar + storage is real
Sunrun (NASDAQ:RUN) was the latest company to expand its solar + storage product into California this week. Sunrun BrightBox will provide backup power but can also help reduce electricity bills by adapting energy consumption to utility rates.
This is key today because San Diego Gas & Electric transitioned its new solar customers to Net Metering 2.0 and time of use rates earlier this year and Pacific Gas & Electric is making the change right now. As utilities move to rate structures beyond traditional net metering, the economics of storage will become much more attractive.
Solar projects in the news
There were three big announcements this week that are worth noting.
The first is Canadian Solar (NASDAQ:CSIQ) completing the 200 MW Garland Solar Facility in California. The project is a big chunk of the company's 1.2 GW of solar project pipeline in the U.S. and adds to a growing number of projects in Kern County, which is between Los Angeles and San Francisco and has strong solar resources.
EDF Renewable Energy signed a 186 MW power purchase agreement with MCE for a project in Riverside County, California. The 1,200 acres of land is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and is located southeast of Los Angeles. The project isn't expected to begin delivering energy until 2020, but given the low number of project signings in 2016, this is a nice step for the industry.
The last item to cover is Canadian Solar commencing operations at its 380 MW solar module manufacturing plant in Sorocaba, Brazil. The plant will give the company a foothold in an attractive solar market and potentially drive project wins in Latin America. As one of the biggest market opportunities in the world, this is a region that shouldn't go overlooked and Canadian Solar is planting a flag there early.