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Christian Hürlimann: "Green energy a business case for investors"
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Christian Hürlimann: "Green energy a business case for investors"

July 17, 2023
MET Group recently established its own Green Assets Division. Renewables CEO Christian Hürlimann explains the background.

Source: PV Europe

Video interview with Christian Hürlimann in English: click here

Video interview in German: click here

Mr. Hürlimann, a stable and secure energy supply based on renewables needs flexible power. But how can this succeed? What does it depend on?

A variety of answers are being developed to enhance flexibility in energy production and also consumption, but the problem is far from solved.

We at MET Group, having recognized the challenges presented by weather-dependent green energy production stemming from the strict scheduling requirements in power supply, ventured into the battery storage sector as well. In the same time we are examining alternative methods of utilizing renewable energy sources, as well as ways to balance natural resource-dependent, intermittent power generation using optimized, automated algorithms.

Building on MET Group’s expertise in natural gas and gas-based power production, we strive to facilitate energy transition to a zero-carbon world.

MET Group recently established its own Green Assets Division. Why did you take this step?

The renewable energy revolution is taking the world by storm and MET Green Assets Division seeks to be part of this global venture. Powered by the conviction that the renewable energy transition is essential to creating a healthy and livable planet, our company is building a pure-play renewables portfolio in Europe with a target capacity of 2 GWs by 2026. And this target needs a dedicated organizational entity.

Being and remaining part of MET Group, an integrated European energy company active in 14 countries and 30 national gas markets across the continent, MET Green Assets Division can leverage on the Group’s Europe-wide sales network, its know-how and understanding of individual markets as well as the financial stability that comes from the private equity approach. 

Gas and power generation are basically close to each other. Since gas is only accepted in power generation in many countries for only a transitional period, the entry into renewable energies almost imposes itself. As a trader, you live mainly on options and are fully dependent on volatile price developments. Having your own green assets makes the world look different: The MET Group has the opportunity to engage in asset-backed trading, that is, we can also market the electricity generated by our own plants. This creates more opportunities and ultimately increases profitability. Not to be forgotten are the guarantees of origin that result from having our own eco-power plants and which can also be traded. To put it briefly: With your own power plants, you as a trader have an even greater range of action.

Which countries and regions do you focus on in your investments?

Our Green Assets Division is already present in eight European countries. We construct and operate renewable energy assets in Italy, Spain, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Hungary, and actively seek investment opportunities in ready-to-build assets as well as greenfield and brownfield sites.We seek to increase our foothold in the European renewables market by expanding into additional countries where MET Group has subsidiaries, leveraging our understanding of these markets. 

We have colleagues from 6 European countries now, and we are currently in the process of expanding our new western hub in Milan.

What are the preferred technologies?

We are clearly focusing on solar energy and onshore wind energy. In the case of photovoltaics, large-scale ripening plants are at the top of the agenda.

All projects are being developed in such a way that in the future electricity production can be combined with on-site battery storage - as soon as this is economically viable and technically feasible. This will enable us to market the electricity generated more flexibly.

Does MET develop the wind and solar parks itself or do you buy the projects?

In Hungary, we have our own project development capabilities. In all other countries we work with co-development agreements. In addition to our hub in Budapest, from which we mainly coordinate projects in Central and Eastern Europe, we already have a small team of three people in Milan, which is now to be enlarged to 14 people. With this hub, we want to be closer to our target markets in Western Europe.

I have to add, when we see a good opportunity, the stage of development is not the most important thing for us. It's more about attractiveness, the corresponding risk and opportunity profile, and how much the project contributes to portfolio diversification. Basically, however, it can be said that we do not want to develop projects from scratch and ideally we want to get involved when the land is secured and the situation with grid access is relatively clear.

All in all, green energy is finally becoming a business case for investors: Thanks to adapted framework conditions and from the point of view of security of supply, this has become a realistic and attractive business sector.