Shell first entered the solar sector when it acquired Siemens Solar in 2002, only to sell the entire business six years later. It still retains a tiny stake in Showa Shell’s solar business after selling most of the business in 2016.
After exiting the solar sector 12 years ago, Royal Dutch Shell has agreed on Monday to acquire a stake in a U.S. solar company so as to grow beyond its core oil and gas business.
Shell agreed to buy a 43.86 percent stake in Silicon Ranch Corporation from funds linked to Partners Group for up to $217 million. It follows on the heels of British rival BP, which last month also re-entered the solar sector with the $200 million investment in Lightsource.
Nashville, Tennessee-based Silicon Ranch develops, owns and operates solar plants across the United States with a capacity of 880 megawatts. Shell also has an option to increase its ownership after 2021.
In November, Shell doubled its planned investment in its new energies division, which focuses on renewables and low carbon technologies, to $1 billion-$2 billion until 2020.
The investment in renewables far exceeds those of other major oil companies but still represents a fraction of Shell’s overall capital expenditure of around $25 billion.
With this entry into the fast-growing solar sector, Shell is able to leverage its expertise as one of the top three wholesale power sellers in the U.S., while expanding its global New Energies footprint