Alternative energy developer SunEdison's $2.4-billion purchase of First Wind provides 21 MW of solar assets but moves firm into wind sector for the first time.

Missouri-based solar-power developer SunEdison aims to become one of the country's leading alternative-energy providers with its $2.4-billion acquisition of Boston wind-energy giant First Wind, completed on Jan. 29.

The deal is SunEdison's first involving wind energy. In the transaction, the firm and one of its operating units, TerraForm Power, purchased 500 MW of operating wind powerplants and 21 MW of operating solar powerplants from First Wind.

"With the acquisition of First Wind, SunEdison becomes the leading renewable-energy developer in the world," says SunEdison CEO Ahmad Chatila.

First Wind is developing or operating renewable-energy projects with a combined capacity of 1,300 MW in the Northeast, the West and Hawaii.

The acquisition of First Wind's equity interests and some of its subsidiaries provides SunEdison with an additional 8 GW of development-stage projects, according to a company statement.

When the acquisition was announced, SunEdison raised its 2015 installation guidance by 29% up to 2.3 GW and raised its 2016 installation outlook up to around 3 GW, the statement noted.

But analysts covering SunEdison told the St. Louis Business Journal last month that they are lowering their target price for the firm, contending it is taking on too much solar capacity.

Even so, the U.S. Energy Dept. announced last month more than $59 million in funding to support solar-energy innovation. DOE is making $45 million in funding available to expedite innovative solar manufacturing technologies to market and, further, awarding more than $14 million for 15 new projects to help communities develop commercial and residential multi-year solar deployment plans.

The 15 solar-project awardees include not-for-profits, utilities, industry associations, universities, and state and local jurisdictions in California, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.

The U.S. has installed more than 17 GW of solar power—enough to power 3.5 million average American homes—and deployment is expected to accelerate as costs continue to fall and more residential, commercial and utility-scale projects come on line, DOE says.