Six solar investments for the North American private equity market

Wood Mackenzie forecasts the US community solar market to grow 118% over the next five years.

Renewable energy investments have become one of the most attractive sectors for private equity firms in the US and beyond. This is largely rooted in the desire to tap into the vast opportunities opened by the push to tackle climate change.

The US government has taken steps, including the introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), to incentivize the development of renewable energy. Wood Mackenzie forecasts the US community solar market to grow 118 percent over the next five years.

Today we look at six PE backed deals focusing on the development of solar energy, starting with the most recent.

1. True Green Capital Management to acquire cleantech firm CleanChoice Energy

Westport, Connecticut, based True Green Capital (TGC) in April agreed to acquire a majority stake in CleanChoice Energy, a Washington, D.C.-headquartered company.

TGC will maintain the CleanChoice brand and team and invest an additional $100 million of capital into developing, acquiring, owning, and operating CleanChoice solar projects, according to the terms. The deal will expand TGC’s footprint to include solar power generation in sixteen US states, including Pennsylvania and Ohio, along with approximately 215,000 residential customers.

2. ARC Financial leads C$125m investment in solar manufacturer Silfab

Calgary, Canada based ARC Financial made a second investment in Silfab Solar, a photo-voltaic (PV) module manufacturing company. ARC originally invested in Silfab in 2021, backed by co-investments from Ontario Power Generation Pension Plan and BDC Capital’s Cleantech Practice.

Silfab produces solar modules from facilities in the State of Washington and Toronto.

The investment’s proceeds will help fund Silfab’s next expansion of US manufacturing to include domestic PV cell and module production at a third facility, which is expected to be fully operational in 2024 with an initial annual capability of 1GW cell production and an additional 1.2GW of PV solar module assembly.

3. Hull Street exits renewable developer Foundation Solar Partners to Birch Creek Energy

Bethesda, Maryland-based Hull Street Energy sold Foundation Solar Partners, a renewable developer, to Birch Creek Energy LLC.

Foundation Solar works in utility-scale solar projects in the US. It was established in 2019 by a team of industry veterans who have developed, acquired and managed over 6GW of renewable resources over the last two decades, the company said in a press statement.

4. Fiera Infrastructure and Palisade Infrastructure to acquire Amp US

Fiera Infrastructure, an affiliate of Fiera Capital, and Palisade Infrastructure Group acquired Amp US, a Denver, Colorado-based renewable energy generation and battery storage business.

The seller was Amp Energy, a Toronto-based renewable energy infrastructure manager, developer and owner. Amp is backed by Carlyle Group, which has invested $440 million.

Fiera Infrastructure and Palisade Infrastructure said they will support Amp US’s long-term strategy to develop, own and operate its growing portfolio and bring the financial and economic benefits of solar generation and battery storage to local communities across the US, including low-to-moderate income households and housing authorities.

5. Antin acquires smart grid infrastructure firm PearlX

France-based Antin Infrastructure Partners acquired a majority stake in PearlX, an owner and operator of smart grid infrastructure systems that was founded by Michael Huerta and Peter Mendonez in 2019.

The investment will be deployed to scale up the team and platform, execute on a pipeline of solar and storage systems and continue to expand electrification offerings to underserved multi-family rental communities in California, Texas and across the US.

6. Riverbend invests in polymer backsheet manufacturer Endurans Solar

Houston-based Riverband Energy Group in February made an investment in Endurans Solar, a maker of advanced materials for solar photovoltaic modules.

Endurans Solar was created in 2021 when Worthen Industries acquired the backsheet business of DSM Advanced Solar, a business unit of Dutch multinational Royal DSM. Endurans Solar’s US office is in Nashua, New Hampshire. Worthen will maintain a significant equity position in Endurans Solar.

“Riverbend is excited about the growth potential in domestic solar manufacturing and believe that the Endurans Solar team and technology, coupled with the Worthen partnership, is well positioned to meet the global demand for solar energy,” Eric Danziger, managing director at Riverbend, said.