Direct Energy acquires US residential installer Astrum Solar

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Energy retailer Direct Energy has acquired Astrum Energy for US$54 million, which it says will expand the range of products that it can offer to its customers. According to GTM Research, Astrum Solar is the eighth-largest residential solar installation company in the United States, with around 10 MW installed in 2013 and $40 million in 2013 revenues.

Astrum Solar has been active mostly in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States, and is the third-largest installer in Massachusetts. The company recently expanded to California, and has partnered with Sunova and Clean Power Finance to provide external financing.

GTM Research Solar Analyst Nicole Litvak says this is part of larger trends of acquisitions and consolidation within the U.S. residential space. “We expected Astrum to be acquired, and expect other companies to be acquired as well,” says Litvak. “The other top installers, we think they will continue to go down one of these paths – either raising their own funds or being acquired.”

Citing home security and automation provider Vivint’s move into the residential solar space, Litvak says that such moves make sense for companies like Direct Energy who provide services to homeowners.

“They have a large existing base of customers who are the right people to target for solar, a lot of them are homeowners, and it is a natural extension of that business,” explains Litvak. “It’s a lot easier for them to go back to their old customers than for solar companies to find new customers, so they work well together.”

Litvak also says that she expects this trend to support the overall growth of the U.S. residential PV market. “These top ten installers are already the fastest growing companies compared to the rest of the market, and partnerships and acquisitions like these will only help them more.”