Sonnedix has invested more than three billion euros in Spain since its arrival in 2009
British company Sonnedix develops, finances, builds and operates long-term renewable energy projects in ten OECD countries. The firm’s activity throughout the project life cycle enables it to be involved in improving the environment and the socio-economic development of the communities in which it operates.
Operations in Spain were launched in 2009, the same year it was founded, with the acquisition of a solar power plant with a capacity of just 0.9 megawatts in Granada, called Sonnedix Pinos Puente. Today, almost fourteen years later, the company’s portfolio of projects in Spain - with over 350 plants in operation totalling 819 megawatts, and a further 502 megawatts in the construction and development phases - is the largest among the ten countries in which it operates.
What were your objectives when you arrived in Spain?
Sonnedix was founded in Spain in October 2009, and our goal then was the same as it is today: to promote a bright future for all of us and for the generations to come. We have a team of over five hundred people working in more than ten countries around the world, united by a common goal: to power a future led by renewable energy. We all share the same vision of long-term commitment, and this is what has allowed us to grow sustainably over the years and become a leading renewable energy producer.
You have already reached 9.4 gigawatts of capacity around the world, with more than 1.3 gigawatts in Spain. How has the company evolved over the years?
The firm started out in Spain with small acquisitions of solar energy projects that were already in operation, after which there was a period of low levels of activity, mainly due to regulatory changes in the country. In 2017, Sonnedix completed one of the largest transactions in the solar energy industry, acquiring a portfolio of 43 solar energy plants from Centerbridge Partners totalling 136 megawatts. Ten months later, another round of acquisitions were concluded, including 25 solar projects and a total capacity of 76 megawatts, making Sonnedix the leading IPP (independent power producer) in Spain. These transactions were the key to the exponential growth that Sonnedix has experienced since then. Today, we have a portfolio of 369 solar plants in operation throughout Spain, with a total capacity of over 800 megawatts and a total investment volume of more than 3 billion euros, including liabilities. We also have a development pipeline of over 300 megawatts, with 170 megawatts currently under construction. Our team in Spain has also grown exponentially; in 2017 we had just six employees, and we now have a team of over 133 staff from twenty different countries at our Madrid office alone. Our workforce in Spain is currently the largest of the ten countries in which we operate.
What is your growth strategy?
At Sonnedix, we're striving to grow our global platform in a sustainable way, always looking ahead to the long term. Our business activity is not limited to acquiring operational renewable energy projects, although this is an important part of our growth. We balance this M&A activity with developing and building projects that we directly manage ourselves, with in-house teams covering a range of functions. Unlike many companies in the sector, Sonnedix works across the entire renewables chain, looking to the long term; projects have a twenty to thirty-year life span, and our job is to optimise their production to ensure that we provide a clean, reliable and constant supply of energy. This is why, in the case of acquired assets already in operation and those developed by Sonnedix, we’re investing in revamping and repowering activities, looking for new technologies that will allow us to make the most of our assets. In recent years, we've been working on our digital transformation, optimising the operation of our plants by using artificial intelligence tools.
What is your customer profile in Spain?
Our direct customers are electricity distributors and industrial consumers seeking a transition to clean, 100% renewable energy consumption. In the Spanish market, we supply renewable energy to key companies in the sector through bilateral power purchase agreements tailored to the needs of each of our customers. We seek to serve all types of customers who, like us, want to actively participate in Spain's energy transition, offering energy solutions that are more economical, reliable and beneficial in the long term.
What infrastructure do you have in Spain?
The team we have at our Madrid office is a multidisciplinary one made up of various departments, such as the key operational areas, finance, project finance, procurement, development, engineering and construction, human resources, and legal and commercial areas. Thanks to this team we can maintain control of our assets, both facilities that are already operational and those currently at the development and construction stage, and we can continue to maintain adequate infrastructure to support sustainable growth in Spain. In addition, some of these teams also provide services for other countries within the group, making the Madrid office an important base of operations within the Sonnedix Group culture.
What is Spain's role in the company's strategy?
As mentioned before, the Spanish office is the largest in the whole Sonnedix Group in terms of the number of employees. Furthermore, Spain is currently the country with the largest operating capacity within the group, approximately 30%, which implies a great responsibility within the company's strategy, and requires us to maintain our commitment to our investors and to the environment. Spain must continue to be a key player for the group's short and long-term development, offering solutions to customers and adapting to the challenges the market presents us with.
What projects are you currently working on and what are the upcoming challenges?
We've just inaugurated the 50-megawatt Sonnedix Los Frailes plant in Badajoz. It’s the first solar power plant built by Sonnedix in Spain, demonstrating our ability to not only manage operational assets but also to develop and build new projects. In 2022, we started on the path towards hybridisation, following the acquisition of a solar and wind platform in Chile (Arco Energy). This transaction was the trigger for us to go from being an independent solar power producer to a renewable energy solutions provider, able to meet our customers' energy needs by hybridising technologies with different and, in some cases, complementary, characteristics. So Sonnedix is now managing wind energy projects as well as the solar projects we’ve been operating to date, and we’re also developing battery and storage projects. As I mentioned earlier, we’re also very focused on our digital transformation, using artificial intelligence tools to improve our asset management, and operational and maintenance processes so that we can optimise our plant performance. This is a long-term process of digitalisation which has only just begun, and we’re continuing to adapt to new systems and processes every day.