If accelerated solarization is the name of the renewable energy game, then SunPower and First Solar are building the justice league to beat.
It’s called 8Point3, named after the minutes it takes sunlight to reach Earth, and it’s a solar yieldco designed to fund the panel installations and project pipelines of America’s leaders in efficiency and deployment at the residential and utility scale. But its creation portends wider heroic consolidations that will forty the industry’s future rule, as the cost of going solar catastrophically collapses, taking down the fossil fuel industry market with it.
While other yieldcos are predictably arriving as attractive investment vehicles, 8Point3 Energy Partners (“initially”) aggregates 432 megawatts of “solar generation assets” from six utility-scale solar farms, including First Solar’s Gen 2 and SunPower’s Quinto project. (Two of the solar farms are in late-stage construction). 8Point3’s portfolio also includes nearly 40 megawatts of SunPower residential solar systems, while more are sure to come as solarization takes over and the companies’ asset base expands.
While 8Point3’s final portfolio and price is in flux, its pathbreaking power is not. Its announcement comes an exact month after news broke that First Solar won about $850 million to solarize Apple, in what CEO Tim Cook called his tech titan’s “biggest, boldest and most ambitious project ever.” Apple’s power-purchase agreement for the 150 megawatt California Flats project “will significantly increase the supply of solar power in California,” added First Solar CCO Joe KishKill, noting the blockbuster deal’s seismic financial and environmental shifts. Nice teammate, if you can draft him.
Meanwhile, on the rooftop front, it was barely a year ago that Apple’s toughest competitor Google poured $250 million into SunPower to finance residential solar buildout. Throw in the $300 million Google gave SolarCity last month to finance the installation leader’s rooftop buildout across 15 states, and you have not just another titan committed to accelerated solarization, but also a hint as to which American heavyweight might next join SunPower and First Solar in a future yieldco.
It’s an aspirational cycle. The aforementioned deals for all three companies easily scale past a cool billion in barely a few years, giving you a sense of how much power they possess. As homeowners and businesses flee the fossil fuel industry’s spectacular failure in search of greener pastures (of various kinds), all parties will be hard-pressed to ignore solar’s superheroic alternative, especially when everyone who buys into it is literally saving money and lives.
Who is going to stand up to the sheer combined might of Apple, Google, First Solar, SunPower, perhaps SolarCity and the many more PV heroes to come? Never before has going solar co-starred such powerful compatriots, and it’s only really beginning. Just wait until natural gas goes out of style.
This article appeared at Solar Energy