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SunPower buys 42 per cent of Australian project developer Diamond Energy

SunPower, the solar-panel manufacturer majority-owned by Total SA (FP), bought a minority stake in the Australian renewable-energy company Diamond Energy Pty.

SunPower acquired 42 per cent of the closely held company and has the option of increasing its ownership, the San Jose, California-based company said today in a statement. Terms were not disclosed.

SunPower is seeking to diversify its business after prices for solar panels fell 61 per cent since the beginning of 2011. The company began offering solar leases for residential rooftop systems last year and said in August the business may account for 25 per cent of sales by mid-2013. The deal with Diamond Energy is another way for SunPower to get closer to end customers, according to Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner.

“We look forward to this new venture and expect it to serve as a model for SunPower’s continuing evolution into a complete energy solutions provider,” Werner said in the statement.

Diamond Energy, based in Melbourne, Australia, owns two biogas plants and develops other renewable-energy generating assets, including wind and solar farms. It also sells to residential and commercial customers energy that it acquires through power-purchase agreements with third parties. SunPower will help the company develop solar projects for utilities and commercial customers in Australia, it said.

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