TotalEnergies will buy the commercial and industrial (C&I) business of California-based solar PV group SunPower in a move that takes the French oil and gas giant deeper into US renewables.

TotalEnergies will spend up to $250 million to acquire the C&I operation from SunPower – of which it is the majority shareholder – in a move it said takes it into US distributed generation for the first time and creates value-adding synergies with its fast-growing PV projects business there.

The C&I arm of SunPower works with companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Toyota, as well as government and public agencies, to provide solar systems or services.

The French supermajor said the deal would allow customers to access “more comprehensive energy solutions and new capabilities in financing and project ownership”.

Vincent Stoquart, senior vice president, renewables, for TotalEnergies, said: “With this acquisition, TotalEnergies is further investing to grow its distributed generation activity in the US and support its business-to-business customers in meeting their sustainable development goals. It is a new milestone in our renewable development in the country, where we are targeting 4 gigawatt of solar capacity by 2025.”

SunPower will focus on residential solar following completion of the deal, scheduled for the second quarter, which TotalEnergies said is not expected to reduce its 50.8% majority ownership of the business. Up to $60 million of the final purchase price will be determined by “regulatory evolution".

SunPower had already said last October that it planned to double-down on domestic systems and would seek a buyer for C&I, and the latest split is another fracturing for a company that was a producer of PV modules until it span off that operation as Maxeon Solar in 2020.

TotalEnergies – which bought into SunPower as long ago as 2011 – has more recently stepped up its US solar push with gigawatt-scale deals for project interests, as part of a broader renewable energy strategy that aims to develop 100 GW of gross capacity by 2030 and become a top-five global player. Last year it also took positions in US offshore wind.

Solar is now widely seen as in the ascendancy in the US renewables sector, with the Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicting the former will see more utility-scale capacity than wind installed for the first time in 2022 driven by a favourable tax credit situation.

Corporate renewables is also booming, with more US companies either securing their own capacity or signing offtake deals for green power with projects to meet their stretching decarbonisation goals.

(This article was first published by Upstream's renewable energy sister publication, Recharge, on 10 February, 2022.)

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