He went on to say the companys plans of realizing a 30-megawatt (MW) ground-mounted PV installation in the province of Ontario, Canada, will soon be a reality.
When asked to explain the motivation behind adding EPC to the companys product and service mix, Goethals said it was important to be able to offer the best financial and technological solutions to customers. To do that, he explained, you also need to be your own EPC contractor.
He continued: Without that youre just a financial broker, so to speak, and thats not contributing enough added-value to the entire chain. By the same token, you want to keep a good balance – you dont want to do the EPC work on every single project out there, because its also important to work with external EPC contractors who bring you opportunities and projects. So its about getting to that balance where you have your own EPC work, but you still work with external EPC contractors.
Established in 2005, and having already installed 200 MW worldwide, the company has a proven track record of successfully implementing projects. Whats next on the cards? Right now were building a 30 MW plant in Canada under the old resale program. Its still to be fully confirmed, but it looks like were going to build this one ourselves as our own EPC contractor. He went on to explain that the company is currently closing on equity financing. If all goes to plan, construction should be finalized in the third quarter of next year.
For a company that operates across Asia, the Americas and Europe, which markets are most important for Enfinity? We [Enfinity] think the U.S. will be probably the most important market for a variety of reasons, he told pv magazine. First of all, you have the sheer size of the country in terms of population, but also very importantly, in terms of energy needs its the biggest energy consumer out there. Combined with the solar resources available, we believe this market will be key.
FITs to be wiped out?
Another reason why the U.S. is important to the company, explained Goethals, is because it believes other markets will evolve towards the U.S. model of power purchase agreements (PPA). We do believe that over time, he stated, European countries will stop using feed-in tariffs (FITs), which are, no doubt about it, the most efficient way to promote growth in renewable energy. However, we feel that given the economic climate out there right now, an increasing number of countries will abandon the FIT and move towards a system, which works more with tax credits, or a pure competitive situation where you have to bid on the PPA.
But what about the fact that the U.S. government had just published a 140-page FIT guide? Surely that is a sign the country will consider implementing a solar tariff? Not to mention the first national renewable energy jobs and security bill, based on the German FIT system, was introduced to congress back in July. We definitely hope the U.S. will implement a FIT, but given the lack of uniformity and the underlying power market, it will not be easy. I feel that its going to be more the other way around, said Goethals.
Consolidation in the market
Speaking about future trends, he said Enfinity expects to see consolidation in the PV industry. We think we will see a similar trend as we did see in the wind market, meaning there will be some sort of a consolidation among the developers and integrators, he explained. Therefore, we think there will be five to ten really big, institutional players out there, which will deal with the financing and developments on all of the larger projects and programs.
Is that just for the U.S. market, or does he believe it will happen worldwide? It will definitely happen in the U.S. and, under the feed-in program, theres a chance for smaller developers to be successful. I think in the Canadian market, as long as you have the FIT out there, smaller developers can be successful too. But we dont think the program will be out there forever. So eventually in the Canadian market as well, once you abandon the FIT and get to a purely competitive (I say PPA) market, its natural to have a situation where there are five to ten institutional developers and integrators, which do almost all of the financing.
He added that he believes the U.S. will, over time, see PV installed on every residential building. We do think theres a bright future for renewable energy and its going to be a very big, significant market, he concluded.