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Suntech Power


is in the news on Wednesday, but not only because of its just-reported earnings. Suntech Power is also among companies cited in a report that privately held solar project develop Recurrent Energy has put itself up for sale.

Greentech Media

reports that Recurrent, which has a pipeline of 1.3 gigawatts in solar projects in North America and Europe, could be the next solar project developer folded into a large solar module company.

Most of the major solar module players have been active in diversifying into the large-scale solar project business, whether by acquisition or simply incremental module sales gains.

Trina Solar


, for example, announced on Wednesday a deal to supply

MEMC Electronic Materials


solar project developer SunEdison with 35 MW of modules in the back half of 2010. SunEdison was acquired by MEMC last year to get the solar wafer maker into the solar project management business.

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most recently acquired NextLight Renewable Power in July, raising its U.S. project pipeline to 2.2 gigawatts, which was sold by its private equity owner.

Recurrent is owned by by Hudson Clean Energy Parners and Mohr Davidow Ventures.

The report on

Greentech Media

regarding Recurrent putting up a "for sale" sign does not specifically say Suntech would be making a play for Recurrent. It simply lists Suntech, along with MEMC and


( SPWRA), as solar companies that have been increasing exposure to the solar project market.

It's not the first time that Recurrent Energy has popped up in the solar rumor mill, according to an industry analyst who noted the recent popularity of project developers as acquisition targets.

While the big U.S. solar players have made outright acquisitions to spearhead solar project development, the Chinese module makers have not yet made the headline solar project deals.

Suntech hasn't suggested that it plans to enter the project business directly. In fact, on its earnings call this morning, Suntech said that it was handing off a project it has had in development in Austin, to partner Fotowatio, and intimated that it doesn't want to be in the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) business. It's a sentiment echoing the deal announced by Trina with MEMC's SunEdison to supply modules. The private project developers may be the exact type of acquisition that solar module makers are looking for, however, the Chinese module makers have not presented that model, at least not yet, as a model that they favor.

The report noted that Recurrent currently uses Suntech panels on a project for the San Francisco Reservoir, which is planned to be the largest municipal solar power plant in the U.S., and is expected to be running by the end of the year.

Recurrent Energy, which is based in San Francisco, is particularly active in California. Suntech has been making the most strides of any Chinese module maker in the U.S., reporting concurrent with its earnings on Wednesday that its share of projects in the California Solar Initiative has reached 16% of the growing market.

-- Written by Eric Rosenbaum from New York.


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