Norway’s Equinor has continued its move into green energy sources by acquiring a stake in Oslo-based photovoltaics developer Scatec Solar.
The majority state-owned company is said to have taken a 9.7% interest in its compatriot business, at a total purchase price of around 700 million kroner (US$82 million).Formerly known as Statoil, Equinor has undergone a major rebranding exercise this year as it tries to distance itself from its image as a polluting fossil fuels business. It wants to promote its caring side more and widen its scope by moving further into renewables and other alternative projects.
Scatec Solar currently has a total worldwide installed PV capacity of around 357 MW, with another 1,057 MW of projects under construction. According to Equinor, it also has a project backlog and pipeline totalling a further 4,300 MW of solar farms under development, spread across every continent except Europe.
“The investment in Scatec Solar will increase [our] exposure to a fast growing renewables sector, further complementing [our] portfolio with profitable solar energy. This is in line with our strategy,” said Equinor executive vice president for new energy solutions Pal Eitrheim.
Including a small number of additional shares held by Equinor Asset Management, the company will now have a stake in Scatec Solar totalling slightly more than 10%.
The two companies already have partnership experience from working together on projects in South America.
In 2017, Statoil signed an agreement to acquire 40% of Scatec Solar’s 162-MW Apodi solar development in Brazil. In June this year, the two companies also acquired equal 50% shares in the 117-MW Guanizul 2A PV project in Argentina.
Those two projects have a combined potential to supply around 240,000 households.
Equinor already has a substantial and growing renewable project portfolio of its own. These include three major offshore wind farms in the UK North Sea: the 317-MW Dudgeon and 402-MW Sheringham Shoal sites - both located off the coast of Norfolk - and the 30-MW Hywind Scotland. The latter is the world’s first commercial floating offshore wind farm.
Despite its heavy investment in wind power, however, the company sees solar as potentially lucrative for its future. The global business has grown around 40% annually over the past decade, and costs are falling more rapidly than in other renewables sectors.