Established energy utilities are increasingly dominating the ownership and development of utility-scale solar plants. Only six renewable specialists now make the list of the world's top 20 project developers, and only two appear among the top 20 utility-scale solar plant owners, according to the data compiled by UK research outfit Wiki-Solar.
NextEra Energy now tops both lists. According to Wiki-Solar’s Philip Wolfe, this is “thanks especially to the recent intense “solarization” of its subsidiary Florida Power & Light. Just six years ago, NextEra was down at No. 6, but it has moved up one place each year since then.”
Independent renewables developers are led by Canadian Solar and First Solar, which rank fifth and sixth. India’s ACME Solar follows at ninth place, with US-focused Cypress Creek at 14th.
Wiki-Solar counts Lightsource, which ranks 17th, as a renewables company, but BP now has a major stake in it. The last of the six is the legacy of projects left by the now-defunct SunEdison.
Five other pure-play renewable companies made it into the top 30 – China’s JinkoSolar and Europe’s BayWa r.e, In addition, Neoen, FRV, and X-Elio each have at least 2 GW (AC) of cumulative capacity under their belts.
On the list of utility-scale PV owners, China's State Power Investment Corp. (SPIC) holds the second spot, with five other Chinese companies in the top 20.
Europe is led by Enel, which ranked third, but EDF, Engie, and Iberdrola are also all high on the list. India comes in with Adani at No. 4, and NTPC and Azure are also listed. AES, Dominion, and Duke Energy represent the United States, alongside NextEra.
“Utility-scale solar projects are getting ever larger, with the biggest now measured in gigawatts,” said Wolfe. “Few but the major multinationals have the financial muscle to take on projects at that scale, so we expect their dominance to continue.”
The only renewables companies among the top 20 IPPs/owners are JinkoSolar and Lightsource BP. Three infrastructure investors also feature, led by Global Infrastructure Partners at No. 19, with D.E. Shaw Renewable Investment (DESRI) and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway lower down.
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