Panasonic leaves U.S. solar development with Coronal sale

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Panasonic is taking a step back from the U.S. utility-scale solar market, with the sale of Coronal Energy’s solar development business to Danish offshore wind giant Ørsted. More specifically, Coronal’s development arm was acquired by Ørsted’s U.S.-based subsidiary, Lincoln Clean Energy, which will take over Coronal’s operations.

This is no minor acquisition, as Coronal operates on a multi-gigawatt scale and has built solar in more than 20 states.

The move seems to be foreshadowing a greater expansion into the solar industry by Ørsted, which already bought up Deepwater Wind, the company that built the first offshore wind farm in the Western Hemisphere. “This experienced team complements our U.S. development platform, greatly enhances our presence in solar and storage, and brings important new customer relationships through multiple long-term power purchase agreements both signed and in negotiation,” noted CEO Declan Flanagan.

The capacities of projects and power contracts that will be handed over to Ørsted have not been revealed, but will doubtless mark a major expansion by Ørsted’s current solar project portfolio, which includes just the 10 MW Oak Solar plant in New Jersey plus the 400 MW Permian facility in Texas. That Texas facility has not even broken ground yet, but is backed by a 250 MW power purchase agreement. Ørsted will, however, have to wait tot see the fruits of this acquisition come to life, as the deal was only for projects in the development stage, no completed ones.

In stark contrast, Ørsted shares that the company’s international wind generation capacity portfolio is anticipated to hit nearly 7.5 GW by 2020. The managing subsidiary for Coronal now, Lincoln Clean Energy, was just acquired itself by Ørsted in August of 2018.

The move also greens Ørsted’s portfolio, with the portion of the company’s portfolio renewable resource in the company’s assets up to 80%, up from its prior mark of 68%.

A benefit for Ørsted is Coronal’s experience in the energy storage field, including in coupling solar projects with storage. Both are areas of necessary expansion for Ørsted, as the company’s first soiree into the standalone energy storage world came in January, with the completion of the 20MW Carnegie Road lithium battery project, designed to support a 90MW offshore wind portfolio.