The pioneer of renewable energies based in Radnor is acquired by the company Fortune 500

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Community Energy Inc., the renewable energy pioneer Radnor, is divest its solar energy development activity to AES Corp., an international energy company rapidly developing its clean energy in response to the climate crisis.

AES, which is based in Arlington, Va., Acquires Solar Community Energy LLC which has developed approximately 3 gigawatts of large-scale solar projects across the country, or approximately 5% of the country’s large-scale solar capacity. Community Energy has around 10 GW of solar projects under development.

AES ‘Clean Energy Unit builds and operates solar, wind and battery storage systems. With the acquisition, it will increase the number of renewable projects in the pipeline by about a third, to 40 GW. Financial terms of the deal, which is effective immediately, were not disclosed.

The buyer plans to incorporate Community Energy Solar and its 60 employees under the AES Clean Energy flag, but will keep its office in Radnor, said Woody Rubin, director of development for AES Clean Energy. “The combination of Community Energy in our team certainly adds scale and talent,” he said.

The consolidation was inspired by a desire to meet an expected ten-fold increase in demand for solar power from officials who set ambitious zero-carbon targets and from large customers who made pledges. clean energy, said Brent Beerley, CEO of Community Energy. .

“If you look at what the Biden administration is asking for, in terms of decarbonizing the U.S. electricity grid, that’s effectively 10 times solar power over the next decade,” Beerley said. Community Energy needs the deeper pockets and market access of AES to accelerate its growth, he said.

AES, which operates in 13 countries and generates revenue of $ 9.6 billion in 2020, has purchased several solar projects developed by Community Energy in recent years, so there was an established relationship between the two companies. .

Community Energy was founded in 1999 by Brent Alderfer and Eric Blank. Initially, it was a wind power reseller through programs such as Peco Wind, which the Philadelphia utility Peco Energy offered to customers who agreed to pay extra each month to purchase some of their electricity from of wind turbines. The programs have demonstrated that there is a public demand for renewable energy, even at a higher price.

“The voluntary wind programs have really been instrumental in opening up the wind market here in the mid-Atlantic,” said Beerley, who has been with the company for 20 years and became CEO in January.

In its early years, Community Energy grew to serve 75,000 retail customers across 18 different utilities. Then she started to transform into a developer of renewable projects, mainly wind farms.

The Spanish energy giant Iberdrola acquired Community Energy in 2006, attracted by its wind power assets. The founders of Community Energy, joined by Beerley, then created the name Community Energy in 2009 and restarted the business as a solar developer.

Community energy is now primarily a developer of major solar projects for which it finds long-term electricity buyers, and sells the projects to operators like AES. He has built several large solar farms in Virginia for Amazon, which has ambitious clean energy commitments. Community Energy has also retained a small number of solar installations it operates, including a 2 MW solar panel at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, which opened in 2016.

AES, which was founded in 1981, operates in a range of power generation and distribution companies. It has traditional electric utilities in Indiana, Ohio, and El Salvador.

The bulk of its portfolio is made up of its power generation activities, including traditional fossil fuel power plants that burn coal or natural gas to generate electricity. It is developing liquefied natural gas import facilities in several Caribbean countries to supply its gas-fired power plants.

But the bulk of the company’s growth has been in renewables, which accounted for the bulk of next-generation 4 GW over the past year, Rubin said. AES Clean Energy represents around 700 of the parent company’s 8,000 employees.

“The business is transforming over the longer term,” said Rubin. “It still has fossil fuel plants and it feeds the grid using traditional technologies. But in terms of growth, over the last decade it really has been a large majority of renewables.

AES is considered a pioneer in large-scale battery energy storage systems. In October, AES and energy giant Siemens launched a share offering for Fluence Energy, Inc. to manufacture and market a large-scale storage project. The offer initially valued Fluence at $ 4.7 billion.

AES also combines its energy storage projects with solar and wind projects to provide customers with guaranteed electricity at all times. One of its biggest customers is Google.

AES purchases most of the business from Community Energy Inc. Beerley will serve AES as a consultant during the transition. But he said he would stay with Community Energy Inc. to take care of some legacy businesses unrelated to solar development and to explore “next-generation climate technology companies,” including nascent technology to extract the dioxide. of carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it underground.

“It’s really an early stage, but I’m going to spend some time exploring these types of businesses,” he said.

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