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Duke Energy buys solar plant from bankrupt Solon

Duke Energy buys solar plant from bankrupt Solon

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Duke Energy has snapped up another solar project in Arizona -- its third to date -- in its bid to expand its renewable energy footprint.

The painful consolidation currently underway in the solar industry is creating opportunities for some companies. Duke Energy said Wednesday it has acquired an Arizona solar power project from Solon Corp., formerly a unit of the bankrupt German company Solon SE. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Solon Group, and its U.S. arm Solon Corp., were purchased earlier this year by Microsol.

The 10-megawatt Black Mountain Solar Project is under construction near Kingman, Ariz., and is expected to begin commercial power production in October. When complete, the project will have the capacity to power 2,000 homes. UniSource Energy Services will buy the electricity generated from the solar farm through a 20-year power purchase agreement.

The solar project will be powered by Solon's single-axis tracking technology. Solon will continue to handle operations, monitoring and maintenance of the Black Mountain Solar system after its commissioned.

The purchase expands Duke's ever-growing footprint in Arizona and the western United States. Duke bought two solar plants with a total capacity of 19 megawatts last December from Recurrent Energy. This latest purchase will be Duke Energy's twelfth wholly owned commercial solar farm.

Solon SE filed last December for insolvency, the equivalent of bankruptcy in Germany. Solon SE was working to restructure its loans when negotiations failed. The company's unit Solon Corp. had announced in August that it stopped its module manufacturing at its Tucson, Ariz. facility in response to market conditions.

UPDATE: Solon Corp. still has its North American headquarters in the Tucson facility. A company spokeswoman told me Solon Corp. is ramping production for up a new product at the facility.

Most of Solon SE did live to see another day. Earlier this spring, United Arab Emirates-based Microsol purchased most of the assets of Solon SE for an undisclosed amount. Microsol, which make solar cells, modules and systems, said it acquired the "essential components of the insolvent Solon SE and its subsidiaries, including U.S-based Solon Corp."

About 600 jobs worldwide have been transferred from Solon SE to the new Solon Energy GmbH and other affiliates, according to an emailed statement announcing the acquisition in March. The main sites in Berlin-Adlershof, Germany, Tucson, Ariz., and Carmignano di Brenta, Italy will be maintained.

Photo of Solon's single-axis tracking solar system in Germany

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Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure