In the run-up to Solarplaza’s Solar PV Trade Mission to Vietnam, we’re speaking to Luca Tosi, Director of Enerray UAC, the southeast Asian joint venture spearheaded by international project developer Enerray.
Could you give us a brief overview of your track record in PV, and the SE Asian region in particular?
Italian company Enerray S.p.A., founded in 2007, is market leader in the areas of the design, installation, development and management of utility scale and industrial photovoltaic systems. The company is part of the Maccaferri Industrial Group, an industrial corporation founded in 1879, that maintains a global presence, 58 factories and a turnover of $1.27 billion. Enerray provides turnkey solutions for industrial roofing, on-ground installations, shelters and greenhouses. Due to its strong foundation and backing, Enerray is a competitive and reliable partner that can guarantee the best performance of power plants. Enerray’s EPC and O&M services are based on well-established and continuously growing experience, acquired across various plants and on an overall track record of 800 MWp of capacity installed and under construction, and more than 700 MWp under maintenance worldwide. Enerray's top clients include prolific companies like Ferrari, Max Mara, Amazon, Auchan, Leroy Merlin, Enel Green Power, Manifatture Sigaro Toscano, Iresen, Mutti, Amaro Montenegro and Edison. Enerray is active in many markets, and has actively been looking for new international growth opportunities since 2011. Enerray owns subsidiaries in 14 countries, including Thailand, and is developing activities in other Asian markets, including Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Malaysia and Myanmar.
In Thailand we operate our business through a local company, founded in partnership with UAC Global Public Company Limited, a leading Bangkok-based company listed on the SET (Stock Exchange of Thailand). Enerray has already built several power plants on commercial and industrial rooftops, such as the 2.5 MWp system built for the Thai Metal Trade Public Company Ltd in the Ayutthaya province, and it has secured over 75 MWp worth of Operations and Maintenance (O&M) contracts.
Enerray S.p.a. has been able to secure strategic partnerships in Vietnam by closely following the development and EPC opportunities in this budding PV market. Thanks to a consolidated network of local and international advisors and a growing pipeline of projects in Vietnam, Enerray S.p.a has gained extensive knowledge on the specific technical and legal aspects of the market, gaining us a competitive advantage and allowing us to hit the market early and start constructions as early as today!
We have a large track record in utility scale solar development. In 2015-2016 Enerray was awarded two major contracts in Brazil, providing our services for the construction of a 254 MWp plant (one of the largest solar parks ever built in South America) and a 103 MWp plant that’s on schedule to be completed this year.
Since when have you been active in Vietnam? Have there been any projects that you’ve been involved with so far?
Vietnam is a key target-country of Enerray UAC, the joint venture between the Italian company Enerray S.p.A., a sub-holding of the Maccaferri Industrial Group, and UAC Global Public Company Limited, a Thai listed company. The purpose of this Enerray UAC is to apply our experience and proven technologies, procedures and services developed in the solar sector in new Asian markets.
We have been looking carefully at the Vietnamese market dynamics. Right now, we are widening our network in the country and are currently working actively on 2-3 projects, while actively exploring new opportunities.
What market segment draws your attention the most? Rooftop, utility scale, floating solar or hybrid systems? (And why?)
We are mainly looking at utility scale projects right now, even though Enerray does have a wide experience in all these mentioned market segments. Of course we won’t exclude the possibility of to targeting further opportunities in the other segments.
Entering a new market involves researching and managing a multitude of aspects, such as permitting, dealing with local authorities and subcontractors and following local rules and regulations (labor, safety, fiscal, etc.). Utility scale projects have the right size and scale to warrant and trigger those efforts on an initial basis.
What partners do you look for to help enable you to reach your business goals?
There’s not really a defined or unique partner’s profile we maintain, since we operate according to a flexible approach. In essence, our preferred partner is a local developer with extensive knowledge of the existing local framework and a solid understanding of international bankability standards for PV projects, perhaps willing to retain an equity stake on the medium run. The capability to drive the project through local contents (such as permitting) effectively and within the deadline is another key aspect we value.
Do you feel that the current deadline (30th of June 2019) a feasible deadline for you to reach your initial goals under the current PPA? What are your expectations afterwards?
It’s the target we are pursuing right now, that goes without saying. On the other hand, we recognize that it is a challenging deadline, because so many external factors and players are involved in the process. We have high expectations for this particular market, as the potential is undeniably huge, as that of others fast-growing SEA countries. We hope the Vietnamese Government may wisely implement the program in order to foster a healthy grow of the market, which can favor long terms investments over short terms speculations.
There has been much discussion about the concerns regarding the current PPA framework. Some have even labeled it ‘unbankable’. Do you share these concerns? In your opinion, can these concerns be mitigated or addressed?
There are issues and challenges that can’t be neglected. Those issues will surely reduce the perimeter of financing parties. At the same time, we are used to facing issues and we are working with banks willing to target the Vietnamese market.
As an industry we (PV) are very new to Vietnam. How can we stimulate the market growth and technology acceptance further?
The entrance into the market of international players would stimulate the growth and foster the transfer of technology know-how to local stakeholders who, in turn, will support the growth. The ability of the government to correctly implement the policies that have been set out, will have further impact on the growth rate.
Taking an educated guess, could you make an estimate as to how many MWs of solar capacity you expect to go online before June 30, 2019?
The only way to predict the future is to have the power to shape it and we don’t retain that full power. Our own target is to go online with an operational plant before June 30, 2019 and we are working hard to make this happen.