Vivint Vies to Unseat SolarCity, Japanese Conglomerate Invests in Biggest Solar Farm

A new company in the solar space says it can unseat SolarCity as the leading solar installer in the US next year.

That company is Vivint Inc., the largest home automation services company in North America and second largest residential security services provider. Private equity firm Blackstone Group just bought them for a cool $2 billion.

So far, Vivint Solar has installed just 1500 solar systems, but its founder, Todd Pedersen, expects to raise that to 10,000 systems on homes next year, according to Bloomberg.

How can it ramp so quickly? By selling solar systems to its 700,000 current customers in the US and Canada. Its technology-based platform integrates a wide range of wireless features and components to provide simple, affordable home security, energy management, home automation … and now also a solar solution.

"We went from installing about one a day in January to about 20 a day now," he told Bloomberg. "45-50 installs a day gets us to that number. It’s not that big of a stretch."

And now that it’s owned by Blackstone, it will have lots of capital to quickly expand on the solar side. It will employ the solar leasing model SolarCity pioneered so successfullly, where the installer owns the systems and customers simply pay for the electricity it produces.

Japanese Firm Buys Into Biggest Solar Project

Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation is making its first investment in a US solar project, taking a 25% share of the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm.

The 550-megawatt (MW) solar PV project will be the largest in the US to date and is under construction near Palm Springs, California.

Desert Sunlight, which will provide power for more than 165,000 homes, covers 4100 acres. After selling the project to investors, First Solar is in charge of building and maintaining the project using its thin-film panels. It has 20-year power purchase agreements in place to sell the electricity to two California utilities, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric.

GE Energy Financial Services – from whom Sumitomo bought its stake – and NextEra Energy are also investors.

The project adds to Sumitomo’s 1800 MW US renewable energy porfolio, which consists of four wind projects: the recently completed Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in Oregon, one of the largest in the world (845 MW);  two Kansas wind farms, the recently completed 131 MW Cimarron II and 168 MW Ironwood projects; and in Texas, the 120 MW Stanton wind project.

Sumitomo is a conglomerate involved across many industries. It owns and operates two wind plants in Japan and one in China, and is an investor in four solar porojects in France, Spain, Italy and Germany. It’s building a geothermal plant in Indonesia

It’s a partner in Japan’s "Smart Town" and even entered into a joint venture with Nissan to recycle used electric car batteries.

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