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Exclusive: Nexamp raises $520M for community solar

A community solar farm developed by company Nexamp.

A community solar farm developed by Nexamp. Image: Courtesy of Nexamp

Community solar company Nexamp has raised $520 million, the company tells Axios.

Why it matters: The sector's growth is driven by a boom in low costs, government support, and a surge in electricity demand.

Zoom in: Nexamp said Manulife Investment Management led the round that also included San Francisco-based sustainable infrastructure investor Generate Capital.

  • Mitsubishi subsidiary Diamond Generating Corporation joined the round and is also Nexamp's largest shareholder.
  • Nexamp CEO Zaid Ashai said the company, based in Boston and Chicago, would use the funds to grow ownership positions in the community solar projects in its pipeline.
  • Nexamp, founded in 2007, has a portfolio of 1.5 gigawatts of generating and in-construction solar projects, 80,000 customers and corporate customers including Walmart, T-Mobile and Starbucks.

Catch up quick: Community solar projects enable residents or businesses to subscribe to electricity generated off site, often from ground-mounted solar projects.

  • Residents who rent or have rooftops that aren't solar-friendly can use the projects to access low-cost solar electricity.
  • Companies see community solar as a way to meet net-zero goals and also connect with consumers.
  • Walmart announced earlier this year that it plans to invest in 2 gigawatts of new community solar projects.

The big picture: Community solar is crossing the chasm from early adopters to more mainstream, says Ashai.

  • The number of community solar projects in the U.S. grew by 3% last year, according to Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association.
  • Some community solar projects have faced headwinds in recent years because of interconnection queues.

What's next: Nexamp is investing heavily in Illinois and the Midwest thanks to attractive state policies and access to local domestic solar manufacturers.

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