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Sharp buys Recurrent to expand solar business

In a sign of ongoing consolidation in solar, Sharp agrees to pay $305 million for Recurrent Energy which develops corporate and utility solar photovoltaic projects, mostly in the U.S.

Sharp said today it will pay $305 million in cash to acquire Recurrent Energy, a California-based solar project developer.

The move gives Sharp, a major manufacturer of solar modules, a vehicle for developing large solar installations at businesses and other organizations. Recurrent Energy has a pipeline worth of 2,000 megawatts of solar capacity.

"With Recurrent Energy's know-how as a developer, Sharp aims to become a total solutions company in the photovoltaic field, extending from developing and producing solar cells and modules to developing and marketing power generation plants," said Toshishige Hamano, Sharp's executive vice president of overseas businesses.

Recurrent Energy, a company formed in 2006, offers a financing model that has helped accelerate the adoption of solar with commercial, utility, and government customers. Rather than buy and maintain a solar array, companies sign a power purchase agreement where they buy the electricity produced by the array at a fixed price over a set time, such as 20 years. A power purchase agreement lowers the upfront costs and gives the installer, who owns the system, responsibility for maintenance.

Recurrent Energy focuses on solar photovoltaic projects sized between two megawatts and 20 megawatts of generating capacity, which could be large corporate solar installations or mini power plants serving utilities.

The deal is a sign of the ongoing consolidation in the solar industry where downward price pressure has heightened competition. In a similar deal, Chinese solar module manufacturer Suntech in 2008 bought EI Innovations, which develops commercial solar projects.