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Enfinity doubles installed solar energy capacity in 2011
Enfinity increased its installed capacity by 200 MW in 2011 thanks to the completion of a number of remarkable solar energy installations. In Europe, Enfinity focuses on developing and selling solar power installations as well as offering innovative products to SMEs and private individuals. In addition, Enfinity is committed to examining the development of large-scale projects that can be delivered without government support. On the global market, Enfinity has further implemented risk management through the internationalisation strategy it embarked on six years ago. This has resulted in impressive growth figures in North America and the further development of potential growth markets in Asia and Eastern Europe.
A difficult year for the industry
The worldwide solar energy industry is having a hard time. The European authorities, including on the Belgian home market, have progressively scaled down solar energy subsidies. As a result, the market potential for large solar energy installations in the European market has decreased significantly.
Over the past year these developments have put pressure on both the demand of the consumer and the supply of the green power industry. This has resulted in surplus solar panel production capacity, which has in turn led to a sharp decline in solar panel prices. The profit margins of solar panel manufacturers have decreased substantially. On the other hand, this price decrease ensures that solar energy investments remain attractive to end consumers in spite of the decrease in support measures. This presents new opportunities for PV system developers and installers.
Doubling of installed solar energy capacity
In spite of the highly volatile market conditions Enfinity managed to install and sell over 200 MW in solar farms, corporate installations and private projects last year, effectively doubling the company’s total capacity in less than a year. Highlights include the opening of a solar energy plant in Les Mées, southern France (18.2 MW), a land project in the Indian province of Gujarat (15 MW) and the Stardale project in Ontario, Canada (33 MW). The unique high-speed rail Solar Tunnel in Belgium (4 MW) also enabled Enfinity to hit the international headlines. The combined installed capacity of all these projects resulted in an increase in turnover by over 50% to € 344 million in 2011.
Heading for grid parity through internationalisation
The geographical diversification of Enfinity’s activities enables the company to spread its risk and revenues. In 2009 the Belgian market still accounted for 90% of the company’s total revenues. Due to expansion to other European countries such as France, Italy, the Czech Republic and the UK, Belgium’s share in Enfinity’s revenues dropped to less than 50% in 2010. Further expansion to North America and Asia in 2011 has ensured that these continents account for 30% of the company’s revenues, with an expected increase to 40% in 2012.
The internationalisation strategy pursued by the company provides an important explanation for the doubling of PV capacity. Enfinity was one of the first European green power companies to anticipate the turbulent PV market and react in a positive and progressive manner. This has helped Enfinity to establish a firm footing in key growth markets whilst other European companies have only just started to explore the international marketplace.
Meanwhile Enfinity has acquired a strong position in the American and Asian markets. In January 2012 Enfinity finalised an agreement with Wells Fargo, the largest bank in the United States, to finance solar power projects in the US for a total sum of € 75 million. With an annual installed capacity amounting to less than 10% of the European equivalent, North America is expected to become one of the fastest growing solar energy markets in the world in the coming years. The Asian market also has clear growth potential. Enfinity is developing slightly more cautiously in this region, primarily due to the slowness with which decisions are taken by the various authorities with regard to legislation and support measures.
Enfinity believes that solar energy will be able to compete with conventional electric current without government aid within a few years. We expect to return to certain regions within 1 to 2 years to build profitable large-scale PV installations. The so-called ‘grid parity’ is currently already within reach in certain markets in Southern Europe, California and Southeast Asia. In those regions with a limited electricity grid structure and where there is a high local electricity cost, government aid is no longer required to achieve an economically profitable PV installation. Continuous technological improvements and cost price decreases demonstrate that solar energy will be one of the major energy sources in the near future.
Focus on the SME and residential market, as well as product innovations in Belgium and Europe
The focus of Enfinity's activities in Belgium and Europe is on installations on company roofs and with private individuals. In spite of the difficult economic times and the abolition of tax credits and other incentives, solar energy investments remain interesting thanks to the continuing price decreases. These price decreases demonstrate that solar energy may develop into a major source of energy in the long term even without support measures. Enfinity is also continuing to invest in the development of innovative products for professional and residential customers. In addition to the existing range of Enfinity panels, the company has launched seven inverters under its own brand, three building integrated PV mounting systems and a data monitoring system.
New management structure
The solar energy industry is evolving from explosive growth to a mature market in which operational efficiency has become of the utmost importance. For this reason Enfinity has decided to strengthen its management structure. As of 1 June 2012, Steven De Tollenaere will serve as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors, specifically dealing with the company’s general strategic policy. Rik Missault, who has gained extensive experience in the telecom industry at Alcatel-Lucent under similar changing market conditions, will assume the role of CEO Enfinity Group. Currently Head of Enfinity Europe, Rik Missault has worked at Enfinity for more than two years and will now also assume the direct supervision of our operations in Asia and America.
With a total installed capacity of over 390 MW, Enfinity is one of the top 10 companies in the world in the field of solar energy project development. Enfinity’s annual total production capacity corresponds to the electricity consumption of 115,000 families and reduces CO2 emissions by 296,400 tonnes a year.