Germany’s largest power producer, RWE, has struck a deal with local solar developer Conergy to lease rooftop solar systems, in a bid to encourage commercial customers to install the technology on factories and offices and lower their operating costs.
Under the partnership, RWE will market solar systems with a peak output of between 50kW and 200kW to existing and new customers, while Conergy will design the arrays, supply components and offer operations and maintenance services. No financial details have been disclosed.
The deal comes as RWE – which has traditionally relied on its coal-fired and nuclear power production business – sheds its old business model in favour of becoming Germany’s “holistic energy manager of the future“; and more specifically, a key enabler in the fast-growing European renewable energy sector.
“The guiding principle is ‘from volume to value’ with technologies ranging from large-scale offshore wind and hydro to onshore wind or photovoltaic,” the company said in a strategy paper last October.
“But we will no longer pursue volume- or percentage- targets in renewables… We will rather leverage our skills set by taking a ‘capital light’ approach. Based on funds sourced largely from third parties, we will position ourselves as a project enabler, operator and system integrator of renewables.”
Solar leasing – a small-scale PV financing model that has well and truly taken off in the US, and looks to be emerging now in Australia – is yet to take off in Europe, but could be a perfect fit with RWE’s new business strategy.
Conergy, for its part, looks well equipped to meet its end of the bargain, after this week landing a $60 million bank guarantee to finance its growing project business. Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that the facility was arranged by Deutsche Bank and financed by Tennenbaum Capital Partners.
Conergy in the first half had about three times as many solar plants under development, construction or management than in the same period last year, the company said in an emailed statement.
“Backed by strong equity investors, we have generated exceptional growth in utility-scale projects this year,” Conergy COO Alexander Gorski said in the statement. “This new financing will enable us to rapidly scale up our global projects business.”