This morning, the Nikkei business daily reported that Sharp had finally sold off Recurrent Energy, an active solar project developer, to Canadian Solar for approximately $247 million.
We jumped the gun and reported that same news this morning.
A spokesperson for Recurrent Energy just informed Greentech Media that Canadian Solar has not bought the firm and that other bidders are still in the race. We were wrong, and so was the Nikkei business daily, apparently.
Rumors of a sale and leaks of rumors of a sale have bubbled out from Sharp almost since Recurrent Energy was purchased by the Osaka-based firm in 2010. That acquisition was happy news for the solar industry at the time, and, to some extent, for its venture capital investors, Mohr Davidow Ventures and Hudson Clean Energy Partners. Sharp paid $305 million for a 100 percent stake in Recurrent Energy.
This type of acquisition is part of the ongoing trend on the part of upstream solar manufacturers to move downstream and capture some of the value in installation and project development. This charge was led by First Solar and SunPower, and later by MEMC's acquisition of SunEdison and Axio Power, as well as Hanwha's downstream plays.
Sharp has been a solar cell producer for 50 years and was once the world's largest producer of cells and panels -- prior to China's domination of the market.
But Sharp has been ambivalent about its solar business, and rumors of Recurrent's sale have been constant. Sharp recently closed down its solar manufacturing and also retreated from a solar JV with Italian energy company Enel.
Recurrent has developed and sold more than 520 megawatts (AC) of solar PV projects and secured more than $4 billion of project debt and equity financing since its founding in 2006.
When Sharp made this acquisition, it never expressed the intent to "capitalize on the synergies between Recurrent and Sharp Solar," in the words of GTM Research's Senior Solar Analyst Shyam Mehta. Instead, Recurrent remained independent from Sharp's solar business, building its pipeline with the use of external modules -- and was highly successful in doing so.
Recurrent bids on projects against developers like First Solar and SunPower that happen to have their own module-making capabilities. If Canadian Solar or First Solar or SunPower were to acquire Recurrent, it would become part of a large, committed, vertically integrated global solar company. Solar project developers with strong project pipelines are now a hot property with the end of the federal Investment Tax Credit looming and YieldCos needing new projects.
Southern California Edison recently signed a contract for Recurrent to develop a 20-megawatt PV project.