SPG Europe: Speaker Insights

November 06, 2014

15201 SPG Europe Infographics cReprint by permission:  SPG Europe Interview of Vassilis Papaeconomou, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Alectris

Please provide a brief introduction to your company and your role within your company

Alectris is a global service provider for the integrated care of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy assets. Honed in the mature solar market in Europe, the comprehensive suite of Alectris services reduces the risk and delivers maximum financial returns for solar investors and plant owners regardless of site location. Powered by ACTIS, the company’s proprietary solar asset management and monitoring platform, Alectris provides a full service approach to solar asset protection, including solar operations and maintenance, asset management, check-up and diagnostic, engineering and improvement services. Performance excellence is the company’s mission, empowering it to re-define O&M and outperform client expectations.

Where is the company currently operating and what are the plans to expand?
Alectris is currently operating in Europe and the United States. In Europe, Alectris is active in Italy, Greece and Romania. Expansion plans are underway for additional European and Latin American countries.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the European PV market?
There are still some European countries with strong development activity including the UK and Romania. The majority of the European countries have a mature solar market with very few new solar parks under construction. Unfortunately investors are facing abrupt and in some case fierce regulatory changes with limited time to adjust. This is the point where a strong partnership with professional service providers can prove of high value to ensure solar assets deliver strong return on investment.

Please elaborate on what you see as the most fundamental challenge facing the PV sector
The PV sector on all levels is consolidating very fast. The biggest challenges globally for PV include the need to optimize performance, reduce upfront soft costs, diminish perceived risk to securitize financing and thus open up more funding options and manage increasingly complex and dispersed solar portfolios.

What do you think will be the long term impact of the FiT reductions in Italy and Spain?
They will most certainly boost consolidation process, both on operator and investor sides. It will put a lot of pressure to optimize financial performance and look into the details that were not important in the past. The good news is, according to our experience, there is a lot of room for energy generation improvement and thus for most of the solar PV Plants to increase gains significantly.

What has the effect been on current asset owners and investor perspectives since the reduction?
TAs mentioned above, these changes put a lot of pressure on asset owners to take action quickly to optimize their investments. The key point throughout this process it to choose the right tools and partners. Alectris offers an end-to-end service together with the tools to closely monitor performance, which eventually not only bring costs down, but create higher profitability for our customers.

What is the next big opportunity for European solar?
The next big opportunity for European solar is the Secondary Market for investors. It is going to be important to gather critical mass to reduce operational and administrative costs. As for the operators the challenge will be their ability to adjust to the new reality and be of real added value to their clients by offering a service to create more value instead of cost.

How and when do you think that the commercial/rooftop market will take off in Europe?
When grid parity will be achieved or the right rules on net metering will be properly established. Commercial, rooftop PV has a completely different implications with respect of bank financing and securities, so it is more an equity investment than a financial investment.

What are the key lessons that emerging markets can learn from the European market?
Basic lesson to learn is that O&M should not be undervalued. In the early years people thought once a plant is grid connected it will produce stable revenues for 20+ years without regular maintenance and management. This assumption has proven to be wrong and in some cases, I dare say, with catastrophic results.

Do you foresee any fundamental challenges which may pose a threat to your company’s market position in Europe?
On the contrary, we see a world of opportunities for Alectris both in and outside Europe. As end-to-end total solar asset lifecycle operations, maintenance and management service provider Alectris is able to scale service offerings to the changing landscape of what the customer needs.