A Look at the Sharp Purchase of Recurrent Energy

Sharp’s recent purchase of U.S. developer Recurrent Energy took many by surprise, but in the end, we accepted that there must have been valid reasons for it. After all,

(a) MEMC bought SunEdison. First Solar bought NextLight. It’s been thelatest instance of BIg Upstream Player acquiring U.S. PureplayDeveloper. (That only leaves Fotowatio Renewable Ventures from amongstthe pack. You have to wonder how long it will take before a company like Q-Cells, Solarworld, or REC takes the plunge.)

 (b) How else could Sharp enter the U.S. market? Its c-Si modules areexpensive compared to Chinese manufacturers and First Solar. Amorphous,less expensive, but it’s possibly a harder sell, even for Sharp, givenall the negative rep points it has accumulated thanks to the exit ofApplied and the insolvencies of its customers (Signet, Sunfilm). Thereis a broad sense that the market in the U.S. has to be made; projecteconomics for a pureplay developer given existing prices are still notattractive enough to stimulate hunders of megawatts in production for amodule vendor, at least not right now. Look at who’s really successfulhere: SunPower and First Solar, both downstream-integrated.  WithGermany cooling down in 2011, success in Italy and the U.S. isabsolutely critical.

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