The high solar exposure, the favourable orography and the extent of the infrastructure network are just some of the reasons that prompted MET Group, a European energy company based in Switzerland and operating in the Italian market since 2017, to invest for the third time in Apulia, specifically in the province of Foggia, for the construction and operation of solar plants.
An operation by the renewable energy investment platform, Keppel MET Renewables (KMR), a joint venture between MET Group (operating in 14 European countries and active in 30 markets; 41.5 bn € turnover in 2022) and the Singapore-based company, Keppel, a global operator active in more than 20 countries providing renewable energy infrastructure and services. When completed, the project, spread over a total area of 62 hectares, will have an installed capacity of 38 MWp and a total energy production of approximately 63 GWh per year. A plant covering the energy needs of more than 20,000 Italian households.
“Our activity,” Christian Hürlimann, Renewables CEO of MET Group, told the independent magazine Fortune Italia, “consists of the acquisition, development, construction and operation of photovoltaic plants through diversified commercial agreements, including public incentive mechanisms and Power Purchase Agreements (long-term contracts between an electricity generator and a customer, usually a public utility) so that we can maximise the spin-offs on the territory and the economic value of the projects.”
An impressive commitment, also on a financial level, especially if examined from the perspective of urban regeneration for an area such as Foggia, where several social issues such as the labour shortage persist. “Generally speaking,” says Mr. Hürlimann, “the project development, construction and operation of photovoltaic plants require a considerable amount of manpower, both white- and blue-collar workers. Furthermore, the construction and operation of the plants will positively impact the local economy through the involvement of local suppliers, hotels, restaurants.”
The project is at an early stage of development and construction is expected to be given the go-ahead in 2025, to become operational in 2026. KMR is an actor already operating in the Italian renewable energy market, with a portfolio of over 200 MWp of photovoltaic projects in southern Italy, which will become operational in the coming years. “Our goal,” Mr. Hürlimann points out, “is to acquire plants that are operational and ready for construction, as well as to develop greenfield (vacant and unused areas) and brownfield (disused or underused industrial or commercial areas) opportunities.”
“This operation represents a further step towards MET Group’s goal for the coming years, namely to achieve a portfolio of 2 GW of installed capacity from renewable sources by 2026,” echoes Benjamin Lakatos, Chairman and CEO of MET Group. “We aim to further develop wind and solar projects across the European Union through the acquisition of assets along the entire value chain.”
KMR is building a geographically and technologically diversified portfolio of onshore photovoltaic and wind power plants in operation and ready for construction, aiming to play an active role in Europe’s energy transition. “We are delighted that KMR is growing in Europe, expediting the growth of its portfolio in the renewable energy sector and helping to promote the European energy transition,” underlined Tan Boon Leng, managing director of Keppel and member of the board of directors of KMR. “The completion of this latest acquisition represents a further step forward in the expansion of KMR in an area including other promising markets such as France, Germany, Portugal and Spain.”
Italy is a particularly strategic market for MET Group: representing the second largest market in continental Europe in terms of natural gas consumption and the third largest in terms of electricity consumption, with considerable potential in terms of synergies with the company’s other main markets. The one in Apulia represents yet another acquisition, leading the region’s plants to have a total local capacity of around 150 MWp.
In total MET Group and KMR currently have six projects under development in Italy with a total capacity of over 250 MWp: part of a broader expansion strategy that the group has implemented in the renewables market. The ultimate goal is to establish a portfolio of 2 GW of installed capacity by 2026, to also play an active role in the European energy transition.