Sun Investment Group (SIG) was founded in 2017 as a development and investment management company focused on solar energy assets. Since then, it has partnered with European medium size Spanish EPC contractor I+D Energias, to supplement our activities with EPC management competencies. Poland is currently their biggest market, having already constructed 109MW and over 670MW under advanced stage of development.
SIG has expanded boldly in Poland in recent years. Can you walk us through the criteria you consider when investing into a new market and what convinced you Poland is the place to be?
We entered the market because we were looking for further interesting development opportunities after exiting the UK market. Poland attracted us because we at SIG, originally coming from Lithuania, a bordering country with Poland - were quite aware of the political situation. This is also first and foremost criteria to be considered when investing into a new market. Also having a recent successful experience from the UK on how to structure and build bankable solar PV assets gave us a clear advantage amongst other local players.
In Poland Offshore wind & PV is expected to boom - with 1 GW of PV built in Poland in 2020, even faster pace of market development could be seen. Project financing is already viable and available.
From a business environment perspective what tends to be most challenging in Poland for a company like yours? Do you have any suggestions to overcome these challenges?
Each and every PV market has its own particularities. Poland is not an exception, whereas dealing with local authorities during the permitting process might be quite challenging. E.g. in Poland there are 4 different Distribution System Operators, which are divided in multiple branches with their own set of rules and particularities. For us, developing and managing a portfolio of 109 different projects dispersed all across Poland is quite a complex process. Simplification and unification of procedure at least in a level of each DSO would be a game changer for us and for the country which benefits from faster adoption of renewable energy generators.
COVID-19 is threatening industries all around the world - do you already have a sense of how this crisis will impact the RES sector in the short term?
We see the current period as a turning point towards building a circular economy and aiding it with sustainable measures. Government aid programs that facilitate the renewable energy sector both on the individual user and on the business levels are creating ripple effects throughout the economy. The existing programs prove that, especially in countries that are used to importing energy, investments in green energy can positively impact GDP, they create new jobs, help decentralize the sector, thus reducing reliance on one source, and improve energy independence, while helping to reduce emissions and avoid pollution taxes.
As solar developers, we believe COVID-19 pandemic, as tragic as it is, could facilitate the process of rethinking how our economy functions. It is essential to reshape it, especially the energy sector, to avert climate change, which, if untackled, will possibly bring about calamities of unseen magnitudes.
The time when the world economy will start recovering from the current crisis will be the exact time to rethink our ways and create opportunities for jobs in the sustainable parts of the economy to emerge.
What about Sun Investment Group itself, how is the business affected? What are the first measures you implemented to manage the crisis?
At the moment we see two types of companies in the renewable energy sector in Poland - ones which were late comers to the market and therefore started to put their assets on fire sale and others which are in financially healthy shape and are able to expand even at a faster pace. As a company we were lucky enough throughout the past year to successfully finalise and exit our last 43 MW portfolio, which puts us into a fortunate situation in terms of faster expansion, hiring of new talents from other companies.
From a practical perspective as a company we have obviously started to work remotely and utilise online collaboration and communication tools more widely at a group level. Which also contributed positively for already more than 100 people working at our company group in Poland, Lithuania, Italy and Spain to understand better how united we are with a single goal - to make environments we live in more sustainable and greener.
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