National Grid has invested $100m in a partnership venture with US solar firm Sunrun aimed at boosting the growth of the household solar rooftop market in the US.
Announced yesterday, the partnership includes a joint marketing agreement, a collaborative grid services pilot, and a direct $100m equity investment from National Grid in approximately 200MW of Sunrun’s existing residential solar installations.
As well as operating electricity networks in the UK, National Grid also serves customers in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, but the joint venture with Sunrun – the largest dedicated residential solar company in the US – represents the British utility firm’s first foray into the American solar power market.
The joint venture is initially targeting approximately 100,000 single family homes in National Grid’s downstate New York service area for solar rooftop installations, but the firm also plans to work with Sunrun to explore better distribution, balance and optimisation of the energy grid in view of the increasing prominence of renewables generation.
John Flynn, SVP of strategy and business development at National Grid, said the partnership would provide an opportunity to increase the UK firm’s capability in the distributed energy space “and enhance our ability to meet the changing energy needs of our customers and communities”.
Sunrun said National Grid’s $100m investment highlighted the attractiveness of the residential solar sector and “emphasises the various sources of capital Sunrun can leverage to support continued growth”, including through its BrightBox solar-plus-energy-storage systems.
The move follows a deal struck last year between Sunrun and LG Chem – one of the world’s largest battery makers – to sell domestic energy storage products alongside solar panels in the US market.
“We are excited to partner with National Grid, a utility focused on truly creating a clean energy future, and to promote the growth of rooftop solar in the United States,” said Lynn Jurich, Sunrun’s CEO. “This partnership demonstrates Sunrun’s ability to develop new strategic and financial relationships with partners to increase consumer access to rooftop solar while further unlocking value for customers.”