Solar Frontier Americas moves into the IPP space with Mustang Two acquisition

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Yesterday Solar Frontier Americas announced that it has completed the purchase of the Mustang Two solar project from Canadian Solar. The 210 MWdc/150 MWac project planned in California’s Central Valley has not yet begun construction.

Canadian Solar subsidiary Recurrent Energy will continue to develop the project and prepare it for construction. Solar Frontier plans to finance and manage construction of the project, which holds power purchase agreements with community choice aggregator Peninsula Clean Energy and the Modesto Irrigation District.

Upon completion (scheduled for 2020) Solar Frontier will own and operate the plant, and this marks a move by the subsidiary of the Japanese thin film maker from project development into the independent power producer (IPP) space. In this way, Solar Frontier is following the careful money, given that more and more conservative investors including asset managers, pension funds and insurance companies are now moving into owning and operating solar projects.

However, this does not mean that Solar Frontier Americas is giving up its role as a developer. “We already have a substantial greenfield pipeline and are actively acquiring utility-scale projects and development assets to further scale our business,” notes Charles Pimentel, CEO of Solar Frontier Americas’ IPP business unit.

The move comes as Japanese thin film PV maker Solar Frontier struggles. Last year the company abandoned plans for a new factory in Northern Japan and consolidated manufacturing in its 900 MW Kunitomi plant, amid reports that it was not achieving full capacity utilization. Most centrally, Solar Frontier never managed to reach as high of efficiencies as its thin film competitor First Solar, and is offering 1.2 square meter modules with an output of only 180-185 watts.