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BUSINESS & TECH

Shenzhen Firm Takes Shine to Three U.S. Solar Farms

By Yang Ge
Many Chinese solar firms are taking over the long-term ownership of solar farms, but few have ventured into the North American market to do so. Pictured above is California's Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the world's largest solar thermal power station. Photo: Visual China
Many Chinese solar firms are taking over the long-term ownership of solar farms, but few have ventured into the North American market to do so. Pictured above is California's Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the world's largest solar thermal power station. Photo: Visual China

Shenzhen Energy Corp. said on Friday it will buy three California solar power plants for $232 million from panel maker Canadian Solar Inc., in the latest such acquisition by solar manufacturers looking to diversify their business with power plant construction.

Shenzhen Energy said the three plants it will acquire are located in the California areas of Rosamond, Tranquillity and Lemoore, according to its statement to the Shenzhen stock exchange. All three are being sold by Recurrent Energy, the solar plant construction arm of Canadian Solar.

The trio of plants has a combined annual capacity of nearly 1 megawatt, and all have signed long-term contracts to supply power to local buyers.

Recurrent Energy typically identifies and develops solar plants using its own resources, and then sells them to long-term buyers upon completion. Shenzhen Energy is one of its first Chinese customers for a project in its home North American market.

“Based on the company’s latest five-year plan, it will follow a two-pronged strategy of helping in the transformation to low-carbon energy suppliers,” Shenzhen Energy said in a statement. “Making acquisitions that can increase the company’s ratio of clean energy production is in line with the company’s development plan.”

China is embarking on a wide-ranging program to develop and commercialize clean energy technologies in a bid to clean up the nation’s pollution and create cutting-edge products that can be exported. But its aggressive support for such industries through subsidies and other assistance often leads to oversupply and the creation of mediocre products.

The solar panel sector is currently facing such a glut, leading companies like Canadian Solar to turn to solar plant construction, which has a known market in long-term owners like Shenzhen Energy. Many such Chinese companies are stepping in as long-term owners for projects in China, though such investors have so far been less active in overseas purchases.

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com)

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