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The billion Euro business with green electricity

New Energy Investor Summit 2018: The latest trends for renewables

This year's New Energy Investor Summit made clear: The two mega-trends in the area of renewable energies are power purchase agreements (PPAs) and the rapid progress of digitalisation. The interest in transactions with power from wind and solar remains strong - and there is ample money available for investments. A look at the annual rendezvous of an industry in the process of reinventing itself once again.

When the many asset mangers, bankers, family offices, insurance companies, investment funds, pension funds, project developers, energy suppliers and other service providers gather in one place, it must be time for the New Energy Investor Summit at the Lake of Zurich again. The most important representatives from the European renewables sector meet here for two days and also find out about the latest technologies, markets and global trends.

A billion Euros for investments

The event is considered one of the leading international platforms for business in the area of renewable energies: Every year, renewable energy projects with a cumulated capacity of three to five gigawatts are presented at the summit.

Peter Räber, Member of the Executive Board of “Energie Zukunft Schweiz” and the event organiser, reports: "Participating investors have up to a billion Euros at their disposal."

And the money is actually invested: In recent years, numerous deals for projects presented at the event were concluded following the New Energy Investor Summit.

Of course, Axpo as the number 1 in renewable energies in Switzerland and an official partner of the New Energy Investor Summit was present at the event: Viktor Lir, Head of Mergers & Acquisitions at Axpo, attends the event every year.

How does he use the event? "It's a huge advantage for me to be able to meet all the important industry players so to speak at my doorstep. Usually I have to fly to London or Frankfurt for these types of meetings and discussions  - here everyone is in one place and it's just a short trip for me. It's not only an opportunity to network, but also a place to initiate concrete projects and business deals."

Investors are particularly interested in Volkswind's extensive wind power project pipeline with some 3,000 MW in various stages of development.

No more fixed feed-in remuneration? That calls for a PPA!

Jens Hollstein, Senior Originator at Axpo Trading, was also at the New Energy Investor Summit as an expert for PPAs and presented Axpo's know-how in this area in his key note speech. As Europe intends to significantly reduce or even eliminate subsidies for renewable production from solar and wind in the near future, many renewable energy producers will lose fixed feed-in remuneration. This is where international companies like Axpo come into the picture: Specialised providers and brokers for power purchase agreements are experiencing a boom in many countries. This is not only due to declining subsidies, but also because more and more major companies are focusing on PPAs to cover their energy needs. The fact that Axpo is present in 27 countries, active in 39 markets, and familiar with local market conditions is a strong asset for future business.

The PPA trend is expected to continue growing, says Jens Hollstein: "You have to talk to experts to find out how the renewable energy business will develop. The discussions at the New Energy Investor Summit indicate that these types of agreements are very interesting for many market-players."

Digitalisation as the key to the energy future

At the New Energy Investor Summit became clear: Digitalisation is a major driver in the fundamental change once again being experienced by the entire energy sector. Blockchain is one of the technologies that plays a key role.

In this context, Axpo's Yves Schönenberger was also present at the event: In a panel discussion on digitalisation with a special focus on energy industry examples using blockchain, the founder and CEO of the green power trading platform Elblox explained how consumers in the supply regions of Wuppertaler Stadtwerke (WSW) have been putting together their individual power portfolios over the past six months.

Yves Schönenberger, the founder and CEO of the green power trading platform Elblox on the panel discussion

With just a mouse click, WSW customers can select power producers in their area, and procure their power from the solar plant on the roof of a near-by farm or a local wind turbine: "In principle we've created an AirBnB for green electricity from the neighbourhood," smiles the former Head of Market Analysis at Axpo Trading, who recently began managing Elblox AG as a spin-off under Axpo's New Energies division.

Elblox is focusing on the trend to digitalisation and automation along the value chain in the energy industry and has the potential to become a leading provider of peer-to-peer market places for personalised energies in Europe.

Yves Schönenberger: "The first roll-out in Wuppertal has been successful and now we want to expand the business to other regions and countries. Areas with smart meters, for example Scandinavia, are particularly suited for these types of projects. We are also actively monitoring the Swiss market and looking at the first partnerships and pilot projects."

Good conditions for additional business

This year's New Energy Investor Summit ended with the awareness that digitalisation and changes in feed-in remuneration in combination with increasing demand for power purchase agreements are currently the hot topics in the renewables industry. Axpo is in a good position to take advantage of the potential business opportunities offered by both trends. This applies to the wind farms the company is developing in Germany and France too.

After the New Energy Investor Summit, are there any major business deals to report from the Volkswind pipeline in addition to possible new PPAs and Elblox projects? M&A Manager Viktor Lir grins, but won’t show us his hand: "We will communicate when we have something to communicate."

About the New Energy Investor Summit:

The New Energy Investor Summit is an event initiated by Swiss energy suppliers and brings together European decision-makers from the renewable energy sector. Axpo is a partner of the event, which takes place annually in early summer at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue in Rüschlikon ZH. The New Energy Investor Summit is always at the pulse of the international markets and the latest industry challenges: The summit's aim is to offer participants a platform to meet top investment managers, project developers, as well as investment and financial service providers. In addition to "speed dating" meetings that offer direct discussions on projects, power plants and investments in wind, solar and hydropower, the event also offers a series of presentations from industry experts as well as various workshops on the current topics.

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