Interview: WiseEnergy's plans for Italy

Quotidiano Energia, one of the most important Italian energy newspaper, interviews Aldo Beolchini, managing partner and chief investment officer of NextEnergy Capital, and Rebecca Carter, general managing director at WiseEnergy.

WiseEnergy, an asset management company and advisor for photovoltaics founded in 2009 by NextEnergy Capital, today manages a portfolio of over 1,300 solar plants for a total of 2,200 MW in seven countries, including Italy. How are your activities organized at a global level, also from a technological point of view?

RC: Today, WiseEnergy is operational in eight countries across Europe, America, Africa and Asia.
To support our global clients, WiseEnergy is structured around global functional leads, as this ensures consistent, high-quality services across countries, and ensures best practices and lessons are shared across all assets.
WiseEnergy has also invested heavily in systems and processes. AMP, our proprietary data and contract management software, is one of our most important systems.
AMP is a secure data repository for technical information (including incidents affecting communication, plant generation, PR and irradiation), for commercial documentation (including PPAs, bank guarantees and insurance policies), and for managing contractual and regulatory obligations.
AMP, in combination with our other global systems and processes, allows us to monitor, optimise and report on asset performance no matter the location of the asset or of the WiseEnergy employee.

Which markets do you consider most interesting for an upcoming future expansion, for both WiseEnergy and NextEnergy Capital?

AB: In recent days, our NPIII ESG fund has acquired an additional 43.5 MW in Chile, an acquisition that confirms the constant growth of our Group far beyond the borders of Europe. We have ambitious plans for the future: we already start from an international base that sees us operating in Italy, UK, Spain, Portugal, India, USA and Chile.
RC: WiseEnergy plans to expand our range of services in Italy, but we are also planning to expand geographically into new markets, and are excited to be launching in Poland and Spain in the next few  months alone.

What place does Italy have in your strategy and what kind of evolution of activities do you foresee in our country?

AB: Italy has always been a land of great opportunities for NextEnergy Capital Group, it is no coincidence that it was the first country we invested in in 2007. Today the group employs about 60 people and is confirmed as one of the leading players in the sector with a development target of around 750MW.
RC: Italy will always be a priority country for WiseEnergy. We were born in Italy in 2009, and our operations over the past 12 years have allowed us to develop expertise in all asset management functions, including technical advisory, revamping and repowering. Italian engineering and asset management excellence have been the foundation for our success in other countries, and we are now using the expertise of Italian employees  globally. For example, employees from our Milan office are delivering critical technical and financial services for assets in the Americas, and when one of our Italian employees moved to Chile, he re-joined WiseEnergy to help set-up our operations in that country.
We are also excited to start providing solar development and construction services in Italy later this year, to support the huge influx of solar investment in the country.
Whilst WiseEnergy is a truly global company, it will always have an Italian heart.

In your opinion, what are the main criticalities of the Italian solar market?

RC: Italy is not just at the forefront of solar development and construction today, it was also at the forefront ten years ago. This means that Italy now has a huge number of aging solar assets, many of which are underperforming, with warranties long-gone, original equipment manufacturers out-of-business, and much higher performance, lower cost equipment now available.
There is therefore a significant opportunity for WiseEnergy to use its expertise in optimizing aging assets to help investors maximise the value of their investments.

What are the distinctive features of WiseEnergy in terms of technological approach and corporate culture?

RC: Global systems and processes, to include AMP, are critical for WiseEnergy to continue to serve global investors. It is also critical for us to offer employees opportunities, no matter where they are based. As such, we will continue to invest significantly in technology.
From a cultural perspective, we want to be an increasingly flexible employer, so we are ensuring that employees can continue to work from home at least 3 days per week.
To ensure everyone stays connected with their colleagues, we hold monthly virtual meetings for all WiseEnergy employees, and every quarter, we hold a virtual “Townhall” for every employee within our Group. These kind of events were important during the pandemic but they continue to be important given we will never have all employees working together in the same office.
In this new way of working, we don’t underestimate the impact on our employees’ wellbeing. Therefore we provide 30 days of annual leave per year, provide access to psychological support services,and have several members of staff trained as “Mental Health First aiders”.
Finally, we believe in equal opportunities. WiseEnergy has many senior women, including in the Italian organization. and it is one of our priorities to look for new ways to improve our diversity, as, ultimately, we believe this leads to a happier and higher-performing organization.

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