CEO, STI Norland
STI Norland is a worldwide leader in the design, supply, installation, and commission of fixed solar structures and trackers. Our initial business was the construction of steel structures for warehouses, shopping malls, and the like. In 1998, we started supplying components of solar structures. During the next 10 years, STI Norland was frequently supplying the largest PV projects in the market. In 2008, we supplied components for that time’s largest solar plant in the world, a 46-MW project in Portugal. This was a milestone for the company because with this we opened our first factory to supply key components for solar trackers: the actuators, which are designed and patented by STI Norland. Having our own factory in Europe gave us a competitive advantage in terms of price. Between 2012 and 2019, we have been commercializing both trackers and fixed structures, and we have opened subsidiaries all over the world: Brazil, Chile, India, Israel, Mexico, and South Africa. One of STI Norland’s most important milestone was in 2017, when we launched a dual-row tracker.
Head of Europe, Trina Solar ISBU
Trina started its path 20 years ago and has since become one of the leading industrial players within this industry, doing very well in this very changing market. In recent years, the company decided to enhance its worth by moving deeper into the value chain. The company chiefly does two things. First, it manufactures high-quality modules, solar trackers, and energy storage. In addition, some years ago it entered the downstream business. Today, we are one of the main solar development platforms in the world, and our business is to develop and structure projects such as financing and energy sale strategy before extracting value from a turnkey project we provide to our end customers. However, we are not an independent power producer, even though we may take equity for a time if it provides value to the project. Spain is perhaps the leading country in Europe in developing a new, unsubsidized business model.
CEO, Manuel García
Since its creation in Galicia, the company has developed the most in forestry. We later started to vertically integrate products of higher added value, like the energy sector, with the generation of thermal energy, biofuels, and electricity production with biomass. As a result of getting into the world of bioeconomy, bioenergy, and the generation of energy, we expanded into other renewable technologies such as wind and photovoltaic energy. It is the second to be built, but has the same power as the first in Huelva. There are several types of biomass: agricultural, forestry, and others. Within this forestry context, the plant is the largest in southern Europe and second largest by power. The plant construction is going well, and 80% of the investment has been executed, i.e. more than EUR100 of EUR135 million. The idea is to start running tests by the end of 2019. By March 27, 2020, the deadline to collect the compensation, we will have connected it to the network and started selling its energy.
General Manager, Solarwatt Spain
The company was born in Dresden and for years only operated in Germany. In 1998, we built the first double glass module, a concept that provides some qualitative elements and distinction from standard models. Due to the boom Spain experienced 20 years ago and the massive imports of low-quality Chinese models, the European industry was destroyed, and Solarwatt is one of the few remaining companies. Thereafter, the company grew exponentially, and in the 2000s, we reached about 500MW per year in production. All the investor companies in Europe went bankrupt in 2013, but at that time they had already started to consider the potential of lithium batteries. We were lucky because one of the shareholders of Solarwatt was Stefan Quandt, the largest shareholder of BMW, who together with his sister are both extremely committed to environmental issues. There is no legal link between the two companies, but we cooperate regularly. What he did in 2013 was put the money and enough resources to relaunch the company with new modules.
Founder & CEO, SolarProfit
SolarProfit was created in 2007. My partner and I started working in the renewable energy sector and specialized in photovoltaic solar energy because we thought the technology had a significant growth potential. We felt it could become the cheapest and cleanest way to generate electricity. It is simple to install, and the technology had a margin of growth in cost optimization. At that time, 2050 was the year of grid parity, meaning the convergence point at which solar energy would be cheaper than nuclear or traditional sources. Some optimists said 2030. Incredibly, our first project without public subsidies was in 2011. The elimination of the tax on photovoltaic installations also helped boost the market. Of the total power registered in Spain in 2018, SolarProfit had more than 30%; in Catalonia, it was 84%. What the sun tax indirectly incentivized was people not legalizing their facilities. In general terms, however, we were already doubling each year before this regulatory change. Now, we are tripling.