The spectacular failure of what was once the world’s biggest renewable-energy company has turned into a smorgasbord of wind and solar farms being gobbled up by infrastructure investors, clean-power developers and even a vegan soccer team.
Since filing the largest U.S. bankruptcy of 2016, SunEdison Inc. has hosted the biggest-ever sale of renewables assets. It’s shed at least $1 billion of assets from Southern California to Chile to India — some through record-breaking deals — including projects that would have died without new owners. With wind and solar supplying more than 11 percent of global electricity, the company’s debt-induced collapse enabled competitors to strengthen their existing hands or enter new markets.
“Developers have been picking at the carcass,” Nathan Serota, a New York-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said in an interview. “As it turns out, the carcass was not so bad.”
In the U.K., meanwhile, the Forest Green Rovers Football Club Ltd., purchased SunEdison’s residential rooftop business shortly before the bankruptcy filing.
Forest Green Rovers, a vegan soccer team based in Gloucestershire, is owned by the clean-energy supplier Ecotricity Group Ltd. Chairman Dale Vince, who wants his club to be the greenest in the world, is building a new stadium made almost entirely of wood, and already uses a solar-powered robot lawnmower.
In late December through the first quarter, SunEdison closed more than $250 million in deals, according to a bankruptcy filing.
“What made it exceptional was the scale of the overall portfolio — that it included every stage of development, that it covered every imaginable geography,” NRG’s Cornelius said. “That was the result of the expansion SunEdison had taken.”