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From a gas giant to a green power giant

From a gas giant to a green power giant

August 24, 2023
How MET Group, which has become known as a gas trading company, is implementing its expansion goals for renewables.

Original article: Handelszeitung

Renewables will play a key role in the energy system of the future. In addition, they essentially meet with a high level of acceptance in the population, including in Switzerland. This was shown, for example, by the clear acceptance of the Climate Law on June 18. MET Group anticipated this development early and began to build up a portfolio of green assets a few years ago.

“As far as we were concerned it was clear: we want to make a concrete contribution to the energy transition and take advantage of new business opportunities,” says Benjamin Lakatos, majority shareholder, Chairman and CEO of MET Group. The company currently operates six solar power plants in Hungary and two wind farms in Bulgaria. Other diverse projects are under development or already being implemented in Italy, Spain, Poland, Germany and Romania.

Switch to green power production

The fact that the company – founded in Hungary in 2007 and now located at Baar near Zug for over ten years – is investing extensively in the construction and expansion of renewable power plants may be surprising at first glance. This is because MET Group is known in particular as one of the largest gas traders in Europe and a substantial share of turnover, amounting to 41.5 billion EUR in the 2022 financial year, can still be attributed to this business division.

The strategic focus on renewables however represents a natural development for Christian Hürlimann, CEO of the Green Assets Division of MET Group. “Gas will play a much less significant role in power generation in Europe in the long term and will even disappear completely in several countries. Getting involved in the production of renewables is therefore a logical step for us.” And in addition to the contribution to energy transition, it would also produce a great benefit from an economic perspective. By virtue of having its own power stations the company can now also conduct “asset-backed trading”, i.e. the marketing of power from internal production. “Having our own power stations gives us even greater room for maneuver as a trader,” says Hürlimann.

The next renewable project commissioned by MET Group is the “Puerto Real 3” project in Spain. A solar power plant is being produced in Andalusia, presently consisting of 88,000 solar panels, on a surface area of 130 hectares. As a result, and with facilities already in operation, the green asset portfolio now incorporates around 400 MW. And something is also planned for 2024 and 2025.

“Additional projects in development, to be realized in the next few years, will generate an additional amount of around 550 MW,” says Christian Hürlimann. However, this is only the beginning of the expansion plans. The portfolio is to be increased to 2,000 MW by 2026. The company is focusing in particular on solar and wind power in Europe. MET Group can count on support from its hub in Hungary for the purchase and development of corresponding projects. The Green Assets Division is currently building a second hub in Milan. “This set-up brings us closer to our important west European target markets,” explains the CEO of the Green Assets Division. In view of the speed at which the new projects have so far been brought online, Christian Hürlimann is convinced that the company is on the right track to achieve the ambitious expansion target by 2026.

And on the Swiss market soon

MET Group is currently selling self-produced renewable power in 14 European countries, where the company has been operating for a long time as a trader and in sales and distribution to customers of various sizes. One of these markets, which should benefit from green power, is Germany – Europe’s largest energy market. MET Group intends to realize around 200 MW of the targeted 2,000 MW in Germany.

In Switzerland on the other hand MET Group is not yet active as a producer or trader. However, Christian Hürlimann is confident that this will change soon. “Opportunities could soon arise for MET Group to adopt a more active role in the Swiss energy market.”