Solar Investment Activity Boomed in H1 2021

Mercom Capital Group’s second-quarter/first-half 2021 report on funding and merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the solar sector shows that total corporate funding (including venture capital funding, public market and debt financing) in 1H of 2021 came to $13.5 billion compared to $4.6 billion in 1H 2020, representing a 193% year-over-year increase.

“Funding was up across the board in the first half of 2021 compared to last year, which was severely affected by the pandemic. Corporate M&A activity was up significantly, with solar developers expanding their pipelines, oil and gas companies diversifying into renewables, and funds buying up renewable assets. Solar project acquisitions reached a record high in Q2,” says Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group. “The transition from fossil fuels to renewables and ESG investing trends made an impact on financing as well as M&A activity.”

In 1H 2021, venture capital (VC) funding was 680% higher, with $1.6 billion raised in 26 deals compared to the $210 million that went into 14 deals in the first half of 2020. The increase in VC funding activity in the first half resulted from some very large transactions, including Loanpal’s $800 million deal in the first quarter of 2021.

Other top VC deals in 1H 2021 included $250 million raised by Aurora Solar, $127 million raised by Intersect Power, $125 million raised by Fourth Partner Energy and $108 million raised by Heliogen.

A total of 85 VC investors participated in solar funding in 1H 2021.

Solar public market financing in 1H 2021 was 386% higher, with $3.7 billion raised in 13 deals compared to $758 million raised in six deals in 1H 2020. Shoals Technologies Group’s $2.2 billion IPO was a big part of the increase in public market financing activity in 1H 2021.

Announced debt financing activity in 1H 2021 ($8.2 billion in 32 deals) was 125% higher compared to the first half of 2020, when $3.7 billion was raised in 17 deals. Spurred by low interest rates, a record $2 billion was raised through seven securitization deals in 1H 2021. Cumulatively, over $9 billion has been raised through securitization deals since 2013.

In 1H 2021, there were 54 solar corporate M&A transactions compared to 25 transactions in 1H 2020. The top transaction in 1H 2021 was by Adani Green Energy, which agreed to acquire a 100% stake in SB Energy India from Soft Bank Group (80%) and Bharti Group (20%).

There were 34 solar corporate M&A transactions in Q2 2021 compared to 20 in Q1 2021 and 13 transactions in Q2 2020.

Also, solar project acquisitions in 1H 2021 reached 39.3 GW compared to 14.7 GW acquired in the same period last year. Project acquisition activity was at a record high in Q2 2021, with over 24 GW of solar projects acquired compared to 14.6 GW in Q1 2021.

Project developers and independent power producers were the most active acquirers in Q2 2021, picking up 13.3 GW, followed by oil/gas majors acquiring 9 GW of solar projects. Investment firms and funds acquired 1.3 GW of projects. Utilities acquired 675 MW of projects, and manufacturing companies acquired 199 MW. Other insurance companies and retail companies acquired a total of 123 MW.

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