Paul Wakefield ( Younergy ) and the energy transition: "We are the 'solar landlord' of SMEs towards self-consumption."
Why is decentralised energy production important? Is it an option for small and medium-sized companies to install solar self-consumption? We talked about this and much more with Paul Wakefield, CEO of Younergy Spain, an initiative financed by Triodos Bank.
What challenge was the inspiration for your project?
Our company was founded in Switzerland, a very fragmented market but aware of the importance of the ecological transition. Younergy saw the opportunity to offer a comprehensive self-consumption solution, as it was happening in the United States, and was a pioneer in offering a PPA contract for small and medium-sized plants. The motivation was twofold. On the one hand, to offer a product that did not exist and that facilitated access to a solar installation. On the other, to contribute to the aspiration of our founders towards an unstoppable ecological transition through decentralised sustainable energy.
What specific innovation do you bring to meet the challenge of the energy transition?
Younergy provides companies with the possibility of having self-consumption photovoltaic plants in their facilities without the need to make any investment or to worry about maintenance. They can do it through the payment of the energy they consume from the plant with a contract known as PPA (Power Purchase Agreement).
Our main advantage is the experience of managing thousands of small self-consumption plants and an important technical knowledge, which translates into peace of mind for customers. They know that the solar plant will be well designed, executed and maintained during the duration of the PPA contract.
What impact has Triodos Bank had on your business?
We understood each other from day one. The Triodos team understood our needs and proposed an operation tailored to them. Financing small self-consumption plants is not easy and in Spain this type of financing was only given to large ones.
What impact has your business had in the market?
Our company operates in the market with the financing of plants from 30 kW to 4 MW. Before this year's energy price hike, our clientele saved 20-30%. Now, the figure can reach 60%.
Those who work with our company pay for energy based on their actual consumption. We believe this is the fairest way to structure our contracts. The easiest and most predictable thing would be to bill the client a fixed monthly amount, as other funds do, but we believe that operating in this way is not aligned with the client. At Younergy we believe that when signing 10 to 20 year contracts it is essential that the interests of both parties are aligned.
In other words, we are your “solar landlord” for many years and we want the contract to be fair to both parties. Regarding flexibility, we give the client the option to choose the term and an option to purchase the facilities from the end of the fifth year.
What impact has your business on the community?
It is key to produce energy where it is consumed, because this reduces transport losses and ensures its renewable origin. In addition to meeting their environmental goals, the decentralised energy production facility allows companies to demonstrate their commitment to the transition to more sustainable energy.
How does Triodos Bank share your vision?
Triodos offered us a solution by understanding very well that, in addition to helping to accelerate our mission in Spain, small and medium-sized companies were helped in the transition to renewable energy. It is clear that Triodos commitment to this sector is total and that being pioneers has given them an experience that allows them to be a reference bank in our sector.