Solar energy has been gaining ground in European decarbonization plans. According to SolarPower Europe, this region has installed more than 40 GWp of capacity, 50% more than in 2021. This growth has been driven by rising energy prices, growing geopolitical prices and increasing geopolitical tensions, which have brought Europe a new sense of urgency to accelerate its energy independence.
Compared to large-scale solar projects, distributed solar offers a more immediate contribution to this goal, since the installation time is significantly shorter.
This acceleration in Europe is also being experienced by EDP, which is currently active in distributed solar in eight countries in this market - Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Poland. To date, EDP has contracted almost 1 GWp of capacity in the region, having already installed more than 65% of that capacity. EDP is also expected to install five times as many panels over the next three years than it has installed to date.
Overview of EDP's Solar DG in Europe
The partner of companies in the energy transition
Today EDP stands out as the leader in distributed solar among European-based operators. This positioning is strongly sustained by solid growth in the Iberian market, where we have been present for almost a decade. Of the total contracted capacity at European level, around 800 MWp comes from Iberia - a contribution driven by the corporate segment, which represents more than 60% of the capacity contracted from EDP. The transition is accelerating not only in large companies, but also in small and medium-sized companies, where in the first half of the year alone more than 100 MWp was contracted.
EDP’s execution capacity in the corporate segment has been strengthened by large companies choosing us as their energy transition partners.
An example is Navigator, with whom EDP will install one of the largest solar plants for corporate self-consumption in Portugal, totaling 17 MWp.
Bringing the sun’s energy into families’ homes
The residential segment has also been growing and allowing more and more families to increase their energy independence. EDP operates in this segment in Portugal and Spain, and today almost 130,000 families have solar panels on the roofs of their houses. This number is expected to increase by 40,000 panels by the end of the year.
The relationship between families and companies and energy does not begin and end with the production of solar energy. This is just a first step towards creating a wider ecosystem of energy solutions that will enable more efficient consumption.
In this context, EDP has been expanding its portfolio and has launched in Portugal the Mixergy intelligent water heater, which makes use of surplus solar energy to heat and store water intelligently and efficiently, with savings of up to 60% on water heating bills; solar panels in apartments are light and flexible, making them easy and safe to install on balconies.
In the area of batteries, the path has been one of strong consolidation, particularly in Spain, where in addition to the traditional battery, the EDP Solar Wallet is also available, a virtual battery that allows you not only to use the surpluses generated but also to share them with a second home with a photovoltaic installation, increasing the efficiency of the installation by around 20%.
As well as investing in products, EDP has also sought to develop innovative business models that accelerate the energy transition.
The democratization of solar energy
The solar neighborhoods communities (Bairros Solares) are democratizing access to solar energy, particularly for families and companies facing investment or space limitations.
The installation is carried out at a customer with available space - the producer - and EDP installs more panels than are needed for selfconsumption. At the same time, neighbors are recruited, receiving part of the energy produced by this installation.
The benefits are clear for EDP customers: they require no initial investment on the part of the participants; they allow the producer to reduce up to 60% of their energy consumption and up to 35% for their neighbors; and they promote self-sufficiency, local resilience and community involvement.
These communities can be formed in homes or businesses. This is the case with CTT, a client for whom EDP will be installing in more than 40 locations, with the capacity to supply 8,000 families and companies.
EDP has around 2,000 projects under development in Portugal, totaling more than 55 MWp. When all the projects are fully operational, there will be more than 40,000 families and companies producing solar energy locally in the country.
Growth has also been notable in markets outside the Iberia: in 2021, EDP had only 24 MWp contracted outside Iberia, representing 7% of the total capacity contracted in Europe. In the first half of 2023, this figure had already risen to almost 200 MWp, representing 20% of capacity.
When EDP took the decision in 2018 to expand its presence to other European markets, it began its journey in Italy and Poland.
By the time it entered these markets, EDP was already a key player in solar energy. Not only because of the existing presence of EDP Renováveis, which operated solar plants in both countries, but also because of the experience it had acquired in launching operations in other markets.
The starting point was energy trading. However, the aim was never to be just another energy supplier in these geographies, but rather to compete for leadership in distributed solar. With this goal in mind, EDP entered these markets with differentiating value proposition: the option to join solar through an as-aservice model, in which it assumes 100% of the investment in the plant, as well as its management and monitoring, which has proved attractive to customers.
One of the ways to accelerate growth in these markets was through the acquisition of local companies specializing in this sector.
The first was in Italy in 2021, with an investment in the Enertel Group - a distributed solar company focused on the SME segment. With this acquisition, EDP gained access to a strong commercial network which, since 2018, had been responsible for the sale of more than 350 decentralized solar projects, allowing for early growth in the country, and which currently delivers around 500 installations a year.
Thanks to a successful acquisition strategy - which integrates an existing sales presence with EDP’s developed portfolio - it has become possible to offer photovoltaic solutions to a significant number of SMEs in a wide range of sectors that are investing in their energy transition. Between 2021 and 2022, this strategy led to a fourfold increase in EDP’s in the capacity contracted by EDP in the country. To date, there are already more than 100 MWp contracted in the region and more than 1,500 solar plants installed, active and connected to customers and the national grid. This rapid implementation confirms that distributed generation is one of the best ways to accelerate the sustainability goals of EDP, our customers and the world.
Among EDP’s biggest projects in Italy is the contract signed with Verallia - a manufacturer of glass containers for food and beverage containers. In total, the project comprises five solar photovoltaic plants in four Italian regions, with a capacity of 15 MWp. With 28,000 solar panels and production of up to 16 GWh of renewable energy per year, this installation allows the company to avoid emitting around 8,000 tons of CO2 per year.
In Poland, too, EDP has made important acquisitions to support its growth in the country and consolidate its commitment to accelerate the energy transition in this market. In 2022, it acquired two local companies specialized in delivering photovoltaic solutions to various market segments. The first was Soon Energy, focused on large companies and public sector clients.
At the time of the acquisition, Soon Energy already had more than 25 Mwp installed in projects across Poland and a local sales force of around 400 agents. Two months later, Zielona-Energia.com - which means “green energy” in Polish and specialized in SMEs - joined EDP Energia Polska.
The integration of these new companies into the portfolio not only drove financial growth, but also provided access to qualified installation teams and new suppliers for the purchase of panels and components at competitive prices.
In 2022, EDP exceeded 50 MWp contracted on the Polish market, a 10-fold increase on the previous year, to which a further 33 MWp have already been added in the first half of 2023.
Ferrero was one of the companies that chose EDP as its partner in the energy transition. The project includes the construction of two self-consumption plants with a capacity of 5.68 MWp, the equivalent of supplying 1,100 homes with renewable energy for a year.
Occupying the size of about six soccer pitches, the 10,300 solar panels guarantee the Belsk Duzy facility, from where Ferrero products are sold to customers in more than 100 countries. This investment, made under the asa-service model, will save more than 4,600 tons of CO2 annually.
An expanding brand
This year, the EDP brand officially entered the Italian and Polish energy scene with its first solar-focused campaign, designed to increase brand awareness in these markets and position EDP as the right partner for companies looking for distributed solar energy solutions.
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