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Podcast S13E06

Solar Power Purchase Agreements – In conversation with Harald Overholm, Alight


In this episode we’re looking at the business of solar power purchase agreements (or PPAs as they’re known) – essentially connecting corporate energy users with new sources of solar generation. Loyal listeners may remember a previous episode in Series 10 with Alpiq and Aquila Capital looking at PPAs in Spain, with its plentiful wind and solar resources. Today we’re heading further north – all the way to Sweden, and talking with Harald Overholm, founder and CEO of Alight, the Nordics’ leading Solar PPA company.

Episode transcript

[00:00:03.410] - Jon

Hello and welcome to the podcast. Today we're looking at the business of solar power purchase agreements, or PPAs as they're often known. These essentially connect corporate energy users with new sources of solar generation. Solar in this case. Now, some of our loyal listeners to the podcast may remember a previous episode in series 10 with Alpiq and Aquila Capital where we looked at PPAs in Spain with its plentiful, wind and solar resources. Today we're heading a bit further north, all the way to Sweden and talking with Harald Overholm, founder and CEO of Alight, which is a Nordic's leading solar PPA company. Hello, Harald.


[00:00:47.820] - Harald

Hello, Jon. Pleasure to join you.


[00:00:51.270] - Jon

Yeah, thanks for taking the time to talk today, Harald. Not all of our listeners will be familiar with the world of PPAs. So can you start by describing your proposition for customers? What essentially do you offer?


[00:01:06.580] - Harald

Yeah, absolutely, Jon. So we offer as you say, we offer PPAs - power purchase agreements, which is something that others offers as well. So it's not a unique product from our end. So I'll just take a brief moment to explain the concept of the PPA. It's just essentially you're selling power, you're selling solar power to companies. What's different is that you're selling it from something new, you're building a new asset. On our end, we build, own and operate solar assets and that allows us to sell the power to corporates. And they wouldn't buy it if it wasn't better power. So it's better because it's cheaper, it creates a saving for them. It locks in cost over time. It's also, of course, better because it's sustainable. And there is this aspect of we call it additionality, sometimes additionality, just meaning that by signing up to this agreement, they have helped something new to happen. They've added something.


[00:02:02.220] - Jon

So they know their electricity they're buying is coming. They know exactly where it's coming from. It's coming from a specific asset, a specific solar array.


[00:02:14.630] - Harald

Exactly. And sometimes it's so obvious because it sits on the rooftop. So we're essentially selling power to them from an asset that we built within their perimeter, within the real estate. So then it's completely obvious that it comes from something that's specific. But you can also do it grid connected. You can sell power from a big solar field. It's still going to be a specific field. So they know they can go there. They can take their clients there or their employees.


[00:02:42.120] - Jon

Or have a picture of it on their annual report, for example.


[00:02:46.190] - Harald

That's very popular indeed. And they can even name it. So we have several of our sites are named after our clients, and of course, it's a point of pride for them. So that's just a very tangible way to understand what a power purchase agreement is.


[00:03:00.800] - Jon

Okay. And I guess they can do that themselves. And some do build these sort of solar assets themselves, but in your case, you're building that and you've got a long term agreement with them. You put the capital in there and they're buying the output. Yeah?

[00:03:17.780] - Harald

Absolutely. And of course, exactly the option to build this yourself and invest the capex yourself is an alternative to the PPA. It's another part of the market, if you like. And I think my general view of the market is that those are different niches of customers. The typical customer, the typical commercial customer doesn't have a team that knows how to do this. It's not a core business. It's not something they should know how to do. So they need power. They don't specifically need to learn this. But then you have customers that have a specific interest in solar or maybe some very specific, like real estate customers, maybe it's a very repetitive thing for them. It's actually almost core for them. And then they might definitely build out solar by their own means and build up that competence.


[00:04:07.320] - Jon

Yeah. Okay. Well, let's delve into some of the detail in a bit. But first of all, can you tell us a bit about Alight your company? Give us a few headline facts and figures so our listeners can get a feel for what you do.


[00:04:23.730] - Harald

We set up the company eight years ago with a very simple intention of driving subsidy free solar and subsidy free solar. Just the idea that the energy transition into solar will be driven by commercial demand for solar. So we focused on the commercial and industrial space. We call it C&I, sometimes commercial and industrial, because those people use 70% of all power in society. So logically, in the end, they would be an enormously important driver for changing the way we use power. So the mission of the company is to make it very simple for these customers to get new solar power. And when we set up the company, the European market for solar was very much driven by subsidies, by incentive schemes. So we were ahead of our time. I mean, probably too ahead of our time. Guilty.


[00:05:15.340] - Jon

It's good to be early sometimes. Was it too early? Those first year.


[00:05:16.750] - Harald

It probably was a little bit too early, but not too much. I mean, even though we survived until today. But nobody was really the early years was all about justifying why we're doing this to everybody, including the customers who've never heard of this before.


[00:05:35.570] - Jon

Education of the market.


[00:05:37.430] - Harald

Oh, yes. Which is, of course, very tough, but maybe strengthening as well. I don't know. Now the market has really come around to what we do, and it's an immense shift. We call it solar, or I hear people call it Solar 2.0 these days because the solar market in Europe is suddenly very much driven by commercial demand. And then it's, of course, fantastic to know that we've had all the time to refine what we do and understand the market so very happy about that today.


[00:06:07.950] - Jon

So how many customers or how many megawatts or whatever metrics you use.


[00:06:13.470] - Harald

We've been on a very rapidly escalating curve. We've installed about 50 MW this far in the early years, we did. And this is across about 50 installations. It tells you something about how small the initial installations were. So we started out doing things like 60 kw on a rooftop and then 100 kw on a rooftop and then 200 kw on the rooftop. And then we got into the grid connected side because customers were asking us to do more significant projects. So we did several times in a row. We did the largest solar park in Sweden. First it was 12 MW, then was 19 MW. And all of this for big commercial customers. So even if the projects were small, the customers were big, like Toyota is a repeat customer of ours, Swedbank, one of the largest banks in the region. We provide about 30% of their power in Sweden. So we've done in small projects for large customers, if you will. And then it's transformed now into large projects for large customers. So we now have if we said that we've done about 50 MW this far, we now have roughly a gigawatt of projects under production or in the pipeline, as it were.


[00:07:27.200] - Jon

Okay. And that gigawatt, will that be spread across, presumably not 1000 customers, but 10, 100?


[00:07:35.140] - Harald

Something in between. There so many customers have increasing many of these customers, they have large power needs, and it's ultimately the power needs. Ultimately what sets the limit for how many PPAs they can buy. And as the market is becoming more mature, the customers feel more confident in providing a lot of their or getting a lot of their power from PPAs. So we've gone from doing the pilot thing, the risk free small thing.


[00:08:04.100] - Jon

Yeah, the experiment.


[00:08:05.640] - Harald

Exactly. The small corporate experiment, to being a significant provider of power to someone. And as we know, with the power prices in Europe, this is strategically important not just for sustainability reasons, but simply in order to lock in costs. So the attention is suddenly high and then the project size counts with that.


[00:08:30.850] - Jon

Okay. So I want to ask you in a minute about your customers and what you've learnt, and is it the CSR people or the finance director? But come to that in a minute. That gigawatt pipeline. You talked about the split between rooftop on site and offsite. How's that evolving? Is it changing? Is it similar split or what is that split?


[00:08:59.970] - Harald

The big transformation on the European level now is that behind the meter, PPAs is growing very rapidly. So the commercial interest for solar on the European level started out with grid connected. So two or three years ago, you would only be hearing about grid connected PPA. And that is, of course, solar sites that are separate from the customer. But then directly, of course, logically, in the wake of that, the interest for behind me has been growing massively, and that's been the case in the US market for a long time. So I think people are also in Europe looking at the US market. Sometimes it's actually the same companies with a big behind the meter PPA footprint in the US, and now they want to bring it to Europe. So that's happening rapidly because of that. Suddenly the behind the meter pipeline that we have is growing fast and it's catching up in size with the grid connected pipeline. Otherwise, of course, the grid connected always has the benefit of every individual project being quite big. So megawatts are I think at the moment, we still have a few more megawatts in the pipeline on the grid connected side, simply by merit of a few of those projects being very large.


[00:10:15.060] - Jon

Small numbers of big projects, yes.


[00:10:17.370] - Harald

But then we see behind the meter. We see requests for proposals now from large customers where they have clustered multiple sites. The behind the meter ask might be for like 50 MW, but to be provided across ten rooftops or multiple sites. And this is exactly what we've seen in the US for a long time. So Walmart, ten years ago in the US, Walmart asked for like 150 MW of behind the meter PPAs across roughly 100 rooftops. But that was one single request for proposal. And I think that's the transformation we're now seeing in Europe of market.


[00:10:59.550] - Jon

I think that's really exciting because I guess that does two things. It reduces the transaction cost when you lump together all those sites. Not completely because you've still got to survey each roof, but you're dealing with one customer. And secondly, the better you balance supply and demand, or the more that's balanced on a local basis, the better. So your balance, I think behind the meter is inherently better for the energy system because that's your balancing supply and demand locally.


[00:11:31.290] - Harald

Behind the meter is fantastic. And I mean, it's fantastic not just for the customers, but as you're saying, it's a very good thing for society to do. And the grid connected is as well. The grid connected tend to create a bit of problems as well, especially for the grid. So I mean, there's always this tension, but behind the meter is just straightforward good. And I think ultimately what's important about these larger frameworks is that they help corporate customers to consider behind the meter something significant. Otherwise, the risk is always that doing behind the meter on one side for a large company is so insignificant in terms of the savings you achieve that it doesn't really find its way up the corporate ladder to where it needs to be in order to get any achievement.


[00:12:17.850] - Jon

Yes, they do an experiment or a pilot or a nice photo for a presentation or report.


[00:12:23.240] - Harald

Yeah, exactly. And it's not really worth the management time, but if you aggregate it, then you might reach 15% 20% of the overall company power consumption. And suddenly it's really important you get management buy in you get focus, you get clear timelines, et cetera. And that's what we need in order to really early on in an early market, in an early commercial market, you're really held back by the fact that customers take a long time to make decisions.


[00:12:53.410] - Jon

Yeah, I want to ask you about that. I can just picture the people involved on the customer side, the facilities manager, because it's going on their roof, the finance director who's responsible for energy, people involved with CSO who may come up with a project. Can you give us an example of a really messy decision making process?


[00:13:19.500] - Harald

Absolutely. And I spend quite a bit of time reading general B2B sales literature, if you like. I remember there’s this academic research about B2B decisions, and they came to the conclusion that on average, there are 5.4 decision makers involved.


[00:13:35.450] - Jon

So you've got to sell it 5.4 times.


[00:13:37.560] - Harald

Exactly. And these 5.4 decision makers, they do not have the same perspective. Exactly. Like you're saying, it's 5.4 different sales processes. I think that's absolutely true. Then what's wonderful in a maturing market is that the customer might have done quite a bit of the selling themselves internally before they reach you. So we now have the privilege of having a pipeline where we can actually screen customers and say we only work with customers that have pre existing decisions to do solar, to do PPAs, et cetera. That means someone internally, the internal product manager has done the selling for us, which is so much better than us to do the selling. But you still do. You still get the finance, the corporate headquarters finance people turning up at the 11th hour with that one really important question that they forgot to ask when they should have asked it. And that's just the nature of corporate selling. So I tended to be very annoyed by that early on. But then I've come to realize that that's actually the business. Yeah, well, that's what the value we create in the market is, that we have the readiness to handle that and we know how to handle it.


[00:14:50.140] - Harald

And that's why we have a business. That's why we bring value. If it was easy, everyone would do it.


[00:14:56.390] - Jon

If you think about who you are, the other thing with B2B Sales, I guess I was going to ask you who your typical contact is. But with B2B Sales, there probably isn't typical because every organization is different. The job roles will be slightly different. But maybe who's the most important customer to you, or what's the most important role to you?


[00:15:19.370] - Harald

It's a procurement manager, and they've been appointed by procurement, and probably they've been appointed to the job because they have some sort of pre-existing knowledge of either energy or real estate, but they've most likely been appointed by some sort of corporate procurement function or similar on something, maybe under the CFO's office.


[00:15:42.950] - Jon

Okay. Have they been appointed by procurement people focused on energy or general procurement. I'm trying to understand, is this an energy decision now more and more?


[00:15:54.070] - Harald

It is really an energy decision. It's not a sustainability. So, I mean, sustainability drives the interest in this and it's important. But the decision as such is an energy decision because it cuts right into the energy optics. For all intents and purposes, energy is what they have to evaluate. I mean, the sustainability value is kind of a given almost. They don't have to spend a lot of time reflecting upon it.


[00:16:21.590] - Jon

They can tick that box themselves.


[00:16:23.270] - Harald

Yeah. So my American mentors and colleagues, they always tell me, like, you don't have to sell the green bit of solar. The customers know about that. It's just boring. Tell them about money and tell them about all the important specific bits about energy costs, because that's where they have to put in the actual thinking in order to figure out is this, are they buying this at the right cost, at the right time, with the right terms and conditions, et cetera? That's the difficult bit.


[00:16:53.130] - Jon

And on that difficult bit. I was going to call it, what's the biggest objection? That's maybe a bit of a negative way to ask the question.


Your customers, what's hardest for them to get the most comfortable with, or what's the biggest issue you end up talking about?


[00:17:08.580] - Harald

So, yeah, you can answer in a few different ways. First of all, so the average customer, they have to see a day one saving, a year one saving. If they don't see a year one saving, they're not going to do the deal. It's just that simple. And the sustainability that has helped them to get around to doing this, and it's tremendously important. But if there's not a day one saving, it kind of goes against the whole idea of running a business, and it just gets very difficult. So that's where it starts. If you don't see and sometimes you're asking about objection. But sometimes figuring out what actually constitutes a saving in a behind the meter deal is not trivial. Yeah. Because you have to understand the existing cost stack, and then you have to make assumptions about how that cost stack is going to evolve. So just getting the customer to a point where they feel confident about the saving is actually not trivial. And that's where we spend probably most of our sales time, if you like, on those specifics.


[00:18:15.190] - Jon

What about the year ten saving or the year 15 saving? Because these are long contracts people are signing up to, or is it very weighted to the short term?


[00:18:24.490] - Harald

I think it's emotionally very weighted to the short term, because if they don't see a day one saving, they're not going to do the deal. But if you and the customer in general, if you feel confident about the overall lifetime savings, it's very easy to create a day one saving because if you have to, you can just tip the power curve if you like. So, of course, you're right. I mean, the logical way to look at it is actually there's a key number that we recommend. It's the net present value of the lifetime contract savings. And you can only get there by having some sort of alternative power curve to compare it with. You have to start by settling on what you think about the power future. You can also buy that from some consultant or something. But then you have the idea of this is your base case forecast for the next 15 years of power. Then you put our PPA next to it, there's a Delta, you discounted back to year one net present value, and then you have your aggregated savings.


[00:19:22.890] - Jon

It's logical and straightforward, Harald.


[00:19:26.590] - Harald

It's logical and straightforward. And then, as we were saying on an emotional level, it still gets back to are we saving money next year? Can we do something with the budget next year? Can we get a better budget next year? Can you help us do that? So, yeah, that's kind of how it works.


[00:19:44.190] - Jon

Okay. And some of our listeners may be thinking back to where you're based and where you started. I understand you work across Europe now, but solar in the Nordics and subsidy free. Does all that go together at the moment presume it does. But somehow this is may be scratching their heads, thinking that's not what I imagined the Nordics to be like.


[00:20:05.570] - Harald

Well, it's like what they say about Broadway. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. I think it's the beauty of subsidy free solar. We're completely subsidy free. So, I mean, the fact that we're able to sell something means it works. I mean, it doesn't mean that we're tapping into some irrational subsidy regime that shouldn't exist. It means that we make it work. And we're quite proud of that because it works for us. We obviously have the margins we need to thrive as a business. It works for the customers. They save money. Yeah. That's what we do as a business to make it work. If you look at irradiation or insulation, I mean, the amount of power from the sun that falls onto Earth and you compare it in Stockholm to south of Spain is actually only a factor two difference, obviously, to the benefit of Spain. But I mean, so there's double the amount of solar irradiation in the south of Spain. When you think of it, there's actually not a lot, because when you I mean, a lot of things goes into creating solar power. You have to think about the cost of capital, the cost of equipment, etc.


[00:21:21.120] - Harald

And we play with half the amount of solar energy that the south of Spain does, but we find other ways to make it work.


[00:21:31.410] - Jon

Well, I'm sitting here in Glasgow at the moment with solar panels on my roof, so I can't talk about solar panels. Harald, in terms of the energy crisis, the energy price crisis we've seen in Europe this winter, has that driven a lot of interest for you? Because customers are thinking, I thought I was buying green electricity, but why have my prices gone up? And actually I'd value the certainty that I get through a PPA rather than relying on the market.


[00:22:02.590] - Harald

Yeah, no, very much so. I mean, again, so sustainability drives overall interest in the PPAs. But cost is really what makes you sign the dotted line, as it were. And with what we've seen in Europe. First of all, the actual cost here now is rising rapidly for some businesses. But secondly, the long term forecast is suddenly very different. I mean, they don't know what to expect over the long term. They don't know if this is the new normal, if things can keep rising, if there's just going to be volatility. So the incentive to sign a ten or 15 or even a 20 year power purchase agreement with a fixed price is obviously just much higher than it was just a year ago.


[00:22:48.940] - Jon

And it's hard to put a number on that risk management or risk mitigation, isn't it? Because as you say, the forward power curve that you compare the PPA to is now more uncertain in people's minds. So can people put a value on that risk mitigation, or is that again, that comes down to the emotion that you're talking about?


[00:23:09.820] - Harald

Yeah. And I think this is so corporate contracting of power. A lot of times, as most corporates, they don't do power contracting as a core business. They're not as sophisticated as you might expect. They're rational, but they're just not as sophisticated as you might expect. If you go and talk to there's another kind of PPA in the market, we call it the utility PPA. And that's simply if you're building out a field of solar panels, you could go to a utility and sign a PPA with them. And they are hyper sophisticated. So they will price everything into that PPA and have very specific ideas of how they put the price on all kinds of risks, etc. For. And that's fair enough. But we find that when you do business with corporates, it's a different matter. It's a negotiated deal. They might just be interested in doing a deal in a certain range of cost, and then they'll just simply test the waters in the negotiation and then they'll sign it. So they're not going to come to you with a mathematical model.


[00:24:17.350] - Jon

No, it's not like chemical works with the whole energy team because it's such a big part of their cost base.


[00:24:26.270] - Harald

Plus there's not an unlimited amount of PPAs out there to sign. So I think especially now with the interest we're seeing, it's really a seller's market in Sweden, where we have most of our grid connected. You can't just go in. I mean, there's not that many selling a new PPA from a new solar site so the corporates have to be sort of humble, if you like, in terms of what they're actually looking for.


[00:24:50.160] - Jon

Well, that increases the value, I guess, behind the meter solar when they can be more in control of their control of the build up. Yeah. Harald, I'm interested to ask you about storage, and I understand you've been looking at it, you're working with it, but particularly for behind the meter, how much storage you starting to deploy, how much do you think you will deploy, and where's the real value in that? Deploying storage with your PV.


[00:25:22.610] - Harald

Yes. Let me start by saying that storage is not the bottleneck at all to deployment. Right. To general behind major server deployment right now. But what I mean by that is simply that just customers are not particularly asking for storage. They don't really know what to pay for it in Europe. What is really interesting is that when we look at behind the meter, the commercial behind the meter business in the US, in California and Texas, for example, the attachment rate, the storage is almost 100%. It's not really, but it's very, very high today, which means that almost every C&I customer in the US who's asking for behind the meter solar, they're demanding storage and they're willing to pay for it, and they are paying for it in various ways. Now that makes us think it's highly likely that this is going to be the case in Europe within three to five years, let's say. So because of that, we're deploying storage now and we're experimenting with it, and we're putting on the ground simply in order to learn and in order to figure out how to bring it into our value proposition.


[00:26:28.760] - Jon

So do you think it will enable you to offer your customers a better deal, or do you think your customers will want it because of other values it brings them?


[00:26:38.070] - Harald

Yes, very good question. So storage can essentially do two different things. Either it can just help us make more money and then we can pass the money onto customers by just offering them more savings.


[00:26:48.730] - Jon



[00:26:49.390] - Harald

Or when you're putting it behind the meter, you can generate completely new value for the customer. One such obvious value is that you can create resilience. You can promise them uninterrupted power supply by having the storage there. You can also help them to kind of change the overall fuse of the grid connection because you help them remove do some peak shaving, et cetera. And then you're shaping your customers power value in a different way, and you can price that in various ways.


[00:27:22.250] - Jon

The value of ancillary services, for example, that could be something you capture and pass on or could be something. Yeah. There are different ways to capture that value.


[00:27:30.620] - Harald

So grid services I mean, for us, if we put stores somewhere and then we sell grid services, ancillary services to the grid and we get paid for that, that would more be the first bucket value. We just make money from it. And if we have to, we'll pass the value on to customers in terms of increased savings, et cetera. But the actual value taker would be the grid operator, the service operator of the grid, who would get some interesting stabilizing services into the grid.


[00:28:02.040] - Jon

Yeah. Okay. So it sounds like at the moment in your learning about the value that storage can generate for you and your customers.


[00:28:11.790] - Harald

Yeah. I think the market as a whole, both customers and consultants and providers, we're all learning, and no one has really nailed a particular commercial concept in Europe yet, but we're all anticipating it. So I wouldn't be surprised if it happens now or this is when it starts happening, basically.


[00:28:31.410] - Jon

And it's a bit of a simplistic question, but if you had to say where you think they'll be the most value, will it be to the customer in terms of resilience or grid fees, or will it be to yourself and the value you can create from that storage asset?


[00:28:46.890] - Harald

It's clearly starting with the grid connected value. So now that we're building out the first storage assets, we're doing that as colocated storage assets on our grid connected projects. And actually our customers won't even notice. So we're not even talking to the customers about it because they're buying the power from the site. We're simply putting a large battery energy storage system into the same site, using the same grid interconnection to provide value to the service operator.


[00:29:16.600] - Jon

All the customers know is that there's another box you're putting on the site.


[00:29:19.510] - Harald

Yeah, exactly. If they visit the site, they'll notice the box, but that's it. So that's definitely where the build up is going to start, because it's the simplest thing you can do. And you see now DSOs, the distribution service operators, the local grid operators across Europe, opening up small marketplaces or ways to price ancillary services. And that is going to make it easy to start selling to them.


[00:29:48.650] - Jon

Yeah. There's definitely value coming to those markets, even if they're at the learning phase or early phase at the moment. Harald, we better bring out the talking new energy crystal ball now.


[00:30:00.690] - Harald

All right.


[00:30:01.600] - Jon

And I'd like to set the dial today to three years time quite short term, and that's because your curve is accelerating quite quickly. So it sounds like a lot will happen in the next three years. So, yeah, I'd like to ask you where you think Alight will be in three years time or what your vision is for three years, what you achieve in the next three years, but also your biggest challenges in getting there. So in those challenges, you might want to reflect a bit on the challenges you've overcome to date and the challenges in the next three years, I’ll leave that up to you.


[00:30:41.010] - Harald

Absolutely. It's an easy question to answer because we really have the blinders on, as it were, in terms of what we're doing. And it's such an enormous depth to our market. So the important thing for us is just to do much more of the same. We intend to be the most important seller of solar power to commercial and industrial customers across Europe. We want to be the number one leader as seen as such in the eyes of customers, be the specialized leader that they think of first when they think of solar power across all European markets, across the European markets, we're really targeting the large Fortune 500 buyers of energy, if you like, which are typically multinationals. And we'll get there by executing on a vast number of projects. Of course, I was talking about the 1 GW pipeline. So we should have at least one gigabit under production or in operation three years from now and accelerating that quickly. I mean, that just goes to the territory. If you're the leader, you're also executing by just putting more megawatts on the ground. That's it. That is the energy transition, isn't it? Like it's not more sophisticated than that.


[00:31:57.500] - Harald

It's all about putting the steel and the glass and the panels on rooftops and on ground. Just keep increasing the pace of megawatt deployment. And the challenge really the challenge to get there, and I have to be perhaps a little bit boring here as very generalist and just saying the challenge is to find top people. I mean, to just keep adding astonishing individuals to the team at the clip that we need to keep adding fantastic individuals and put them to good work in a good culture where they get stuff done quickly and remove bottlenecks and move forward. That is true.


[00:32:36.780] - Jon

The challenge over time is that across all parts of your activity or is it more on the sales side or on the build side, or is it a bit of everything?


[00:32:47.120] - Harald

No, it's a bit of everything, isn't it? You need fantastic people everywhere. But we have two teams that really drive the front line of deployment, and one of those teams, as you're saying, is the sales team. So the people who sell to corporates, that's where it starts. Like, once they sold, then we can put it into production. And so that's where we need to add most people most quickly. The other team is the team that helps us access sites. So the grid connected sites, because if we don't have those sites, we can't sell them to the corporates. So it's also kind of like a front line activity. But then once the selling is done, getting the financing in place, getting operations in place, procuring the panels, all that. It's not trivial either. It just has to when you scale things up and you try to do more every day, it just puts an enormous amount of stress on a team and the company. And the only way to overcome that is by having amazing people in a good culture that lets everyone get to work quickly.


[00:33:52.570] - Jon

Securing finance isn't a challenge in terms of, not saying it's easy, but that's not a bottleneck.


[00:33:54.040] - Harald

Yeah, of course, obviously it is a challenge as well. And we've had a period now when also actually having access to modules, getting modules in place at the right time through the global supply chain also is a bit of a bottleneck. So those bottlenecks, they come and go. But it's not an overarching bottleneck, I would say. I mean, financing for renewables has never been as good as it is now. It's like you have all these wall of money as it were, hitting the market, cross equity in debt, people who really want to put money into real assets with an impact angle. So there's an enormous amount of money out there. It's never going to be simple to access money.


[00:34:37.630] - Jon

No. It sounds to me like you've got your machine. Of course, you tweak it, you get it running more smoothly. It's now really about the scaling of that taking the market opportunity. I don't know if you want to. Maybe I shouldn't answer the question, ask the question this way. But if another company was coming to this space, what would be difficult or what do you think you've learned over the last eight, nine years that enables you to be in the position you are now? If you had to highlight one or two things that you look back and you think, yeah, that was really hard to get right. But we got that right.


[00:35:22.430] - Harald

But it is really the corporate contracting. So I mean, doing what we do in a subsidy driven market where the off take comes from the government or from a government scheme, et cetera, it's just a completely different business. I mean, we have to create corporate contracts to build out things out. And most of the corporates we meet are somewhat new to this space with all the confusion and the hassle that you were alluding to previously, all the 5.4 decision makers trying to get online, etc. And learning how to navigate that, picking the right customers and then helping those customers reach decisions and being able to win their trust and move on to executing it is something where you need to build a strong you need a strong team. It's not a strong experience, strong intellectual property, a brand, everything in place. And that takes time.


[00:36:12.930] - Jon

Yeah, I imagine you can't do that quickly. You learn that over a number of years.


[00:36:17.120] - Harald

You can't do it quickly. That's the thing. It's not impossible to do, but you just can't do it overnight. That's the barrier to entry, if you like. It's very clear to us.


[00:36:27.390] - Jon

Yeah. Well, it's hugely exciting what you're doing, Harald. I've got a ton of more questions that we didn't get through today, but I hope for our listeners it's a really interesting window on the world of solar PPAs and how you've grown your company. So, yeah, best of luck in the next years building up that pipeline and ever increasing the size of that pipeline, I guess.


[00:36:54.620] - Harald

Brilliant. Well. Thank you so much, Jon. It's been a pleasure. Fantastic questions. I'm really happy to contribute to the podcast. Thank you.


[00:37:00.870] - Jon

Yes. Thank you, Harald. And thanks, as always, to everyone listening. Hope you enjoyed that episode. We’ll come back to the world of PPAs at some point I'm sure soon and look forward to welcoming you back to the next episode next week. Thanks and goodbye.


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