Behind the Deal: Blackstone’s Investment in Esdec Solar Group
Renewables have become increasingly affordable in most areas of the world, with the cost of electricity from solar falling by 85% between 2010 and 2020. Despite this progress, the world will still need to achieve more than three times the current amount of annual solar energy capacity additions to stay on track to uphold the 1.5°C Paris Agreement goal in 20501.
One way to generate affordable clean energy at scale is through rooftop solar. Global penetration remains low, with rooftop solar energy powering roughly 6% of European residential, commercial and industrial buildings and only around 4% of those in the United States2. To accelerate rooftop solar penetration, the world will need to ramp up production of panel mounting systems—the equipment securing solar panels in place—that are durable, versatile, and easy to install.
This presents a new investment opportunity. Earlier this year, Blackstone announced a strategic investment in Esdec, a global leading Netherlands-based provider of these mission-critical mounting systems. By helping industry leaders like Esdec build stronger enterprises at scale, we can help create jobs and drive decarbonization across our portfolio to generate lasting value for our investors and stakeholders.
We sat down with Juergen Pinker and Bilal Khan, Senior Managing Directors in Blackstone’s Private Equity group, and Amisha Parekh, Head of ESG for Private Equity, to get a behind-the-scenes look at this partnership.
What made Esdec stand out to you as an investment opportunity in the current landscape?
Juergen Pinker: Solar power has become one of the lowest-cost sources of electricity in most parts of the world, yet only a small portion of today’s residential buildings in the United States and Europe are powered by rooftop solar. We are excited about the growth potential of the business. To increase residential solar penetration, we need to install solar panels on a variety of roof materials and configurations, and Esdec’s products are well-suited to enable that at scale.
Bilal Khan: We believe that durable, safe and reliable solar mounting systems—which also need to match the useful life of the solar panels—can help to increase solar penetration in the residential sector.
Amisha Parekh: What stood out to me is that Esdec offers installation training focusing on safety and efficiency while also improving ease of installation for its mounting systems—both of which can help to mitigate the imbalance between the huge demand for solar panels and the shortage of installers.
How did you decide to partner with Esdec, and how did the deal come together?
JP: Bilal and I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about how to invest behind solar growth. We’ve been monitoring Esdec as an emerging champion since 2020, when we started building a relationship with Rivean Capital, a European private equity firm that acquired Esdec in 2018. Earlier this year, Rivean chose us as a partner to support Esdec’s next phase of growth. I believe our strong U.S. network and knowledge from past investments made us an attractive partner.
BK: Renewables and decarbonization are mega-themes for Blackstone Energy Transition Partners. We identified Esdec as a clear leader very early on, which allowed us to build strong foundations in our relationships with the business and Rivean. That kind of relationship-building is core to Blackstone’s approach.
What are some of the opportunities you see for collaboration with the Esdec team?
BK: We have conviction that Esdec’s products are a critical enabler for rooftop solar expansion and the broader energy transition. We believe this partnership with Esdec is going to allow access to reliable, low-cost rooftop solar solutions for other businesses Blackstone invests in, creating opportunities to generate value for Esdec by driving decarbonization across our portfolio.
JP: Blackstone is the largest owner of commercial real estate globally. Combined with our existing investments in the rooftop solar industry, that creates opportunity for us to work with Esdec’s existing owners to drive business and develop value. Our mission is to help Esdec grow.
AP: We can also help advance Esdec’s ESG strategy across areas like supply chain policies and accessing diverse talent. We’re not just helping Esdec to consider which ESG topics will deliver the most value and are important to stakeholders, but also how to operationalize them.
What are you looking forward to in this partnership?
JP: Esdec’s world-class, entrepreneurial management team has achieved impressive growth over the last couple of years—I think of our partnership as enabling further evolution and taking the business to the next level. It’s always fun when you’re working with driven, successful teams that plan to continue rapid growth.
AP: As Esdec grows as a business, so does this partnership’s ability to contribute to the energy transition. I’m thrilled that Esdec is looking towards elevating its capabilities in a thoughtful way—being mindful of efficiency and safety—and we’re looking forward to helping them in that process.
1. Energy Transitions Outlook 2022: 1.5°C Pathway, International Renewable Energy Agency, Abu Dhabi.
2. Esdec Information Memorandum.
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