French energy giant Engie is adding the European operations of bankrupt solar installer Sungevity to its growing portfolio of distributed energy offerings, according to reports.

GTM covered and broke the news of Sungevity's recent descent into layoffs, obfuscation, bankruptcy and eventual sale to private equity firm Northern Pacific Group for $50 million.

The U.S.-based part of the company was rechristened as Solar Spectrum. The last vestige of the firm, its Netherlands-based European arm, was acquired by Engie for an undisclosed amount. (One would assume it was a relative bargain for the acquirer.)

The wind-down of the U.S. business involved several rounds of staff reductions, which were carried out with ambush layoffs, no severance and bounced paychecks.

Sungevity is still active in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom, according to PV Magazine. Approximately 90 Sungevity employees will be integrated into Engie’s staff.

The Sungevity acquisition is just the latest in Engie's accumulation of distributed energy assets. “Engie is moving into the residential sector after a solid play for the commercial space," said GTM Research analyst Andrew Mulherkar, after the company's acquisition of EV-Box.

Here are some of Engie's recent corporate additions and investments:

  • Last year, Engie acquired an 80 percent stake in behind-the-meter battery startup Green Charge Networks.
  • Engie has a 30 percent equity stake in Chinese solar developer Unisun Energy.
  • EV-Box is looking to expand geographically after getting acquired by Engie in March of this year. Based in the Netherlands, the firm  has provided 26 countries and 980 cities with more than 48,000 EV charging stations.
  • PV Magazine notes that Engie is active in the solar business "through its subsidiaries Compagnie du Vent, Solairedirect, Engie Green and La Compagnie Nationale du Rhône."
  • Engie invested in OpTerra, which focuses on lighting, HVAC, controls, solar and multi-measure projects; it also invested in Ecova, which offers a software platform for resource management coupled with 24/7 monitoring services. 
  • Engie has also invested in Serviz, which provides a software platform for home repair. 
  • Tendril, an energy services management firm, also entered into a partnership with Engie.  

The trend is playing out among the world's top utilities.

According to a recent tally from GTM Research, utility investment in distributed energy companies has tripled in North America and Europe since 2010. In 2016, the value of utility acquisitions and equity investments hit $1 billion.

This year, Italy's Enel acquired a majority stake in Demand Energy. And Scandinavia's Wartsila acquired energy storage startup Greensmith. It's clear that European utilities, power producers and industrial giants are being drawn into the distributed energy market.

Want to hear more about this investment trend? Listen to Shayle Kann and Stephen Lacey break down the numbers on The Interchange podcast.