Global corporate funding in the sector, including venture capital (VC) funding, public market, and debt financing, stood at $22.8 billion in 112 deals in the first nine months (9M) of 2021, a 190% year-over-year (YoY) growth compared to $7.9 billion in 72 deals in 9M 2020, according to Mercom’s 9M and Q3 2021 Solar Funding and M&A Report.
“Investment activity continues to be robust across the solar sector and not just compared to 2020 (because of COVID-19). This will end up as one of the best years for solar financing since 2010. As the push toward the energy transition picks up speed worldwide, solar – one of the mature renewable energy resources – is benefitting enormously. Solar project acquisitions in the first nine months of 2021 have already surpassed all of 2020,” said Raj Prabhu, Chief Executive Officer of Mercom Capital Group.
In the third quarter (Q3) of 2021, global VC funding in the solar sector was $593 million in 13 deals, a 224% increase compared to $183 million in 15 deals in Q3 2020. However, quarter-over-quarter, VC funding decreased 2% compared to $608 million in 12 deals in Q2 2021.
The solar sector raised $2.2 billion in VC funding through 39 deals in 9M 2021, a 446% increase compared to $394 million in 29 deals in the same period last year.
Some of the top VC deals in 9M 2021 included $800 million raised by Loanpal, $250 million raised by Aurora Solar, $240 million raised by Nexamp, $127 million raised by Intersect Power, and $125 million raised by Fourth Partner Energy.
Q3 2021 also witnessed a 197% increase in solar public financing, with $2.7 billion raised in 10 deals compared to $894 million raised in five deals in the previous quarter. In a YoY comparison, public financing increased 106% compared to $1.3 billion in four deals in Q3 2020.
In 9M 2021, solar public financing stood at $6.3 billion in 23 deals, a 209% growth compared to $2 billion in 10 deals in the same period last year.
9M 2021 also saw seven solar initial public offerings (IPOs) and SPAC deals that brought in $4.4 billion.
Debt financing activity stood at around $6 billion in 18 deals in Q3 2021. This was 242% higher than Q3 2020, which saw $1.8 billion raised in 16 deals. In Q3 2021, debt financing activity increased 54% QoQ compared to $3.9 billion raised in 18 deals in the previous quarter.
“Record securitization activity was a key contributor to the increase in debt financing activity during 9M 2021,” the report said.
The report also revealed that during Q3 2021, there were 29 M&A deals, up from 17 in Q3 2020 and down from 34 in Q2 2021. 9M 2021 witnessed 83 M&A transactions compared to 42 deals in the same period last year.
In 9M 2021, the largest M&A deal was the acquisition of SB Energy India by Adani Green Energy.
According to the report, large-scale solar project acquisition activity in 9M 2021 was 125% higher than in the corresponding period in 2020. About 55.5 GW of solar projects were acquired in 9M 2021 compared to 24.3 GW in 9M 2020. Of this, 15.8 GW of solar projects were acquired in Q3 2021.
The report notes that project developers acquired the most solar projects in 9M 2021, followed by oil and gas majors, investment firms, and utilities. Developers were also the most active solar project acquirers in Q3 2021, followed by investment firms.