Amarenco Group – Solar Power

Amarenco Group has set out on a quest to combine low-carbon electricity with a regeneration approach.

Amarenco is a leading Solar IPP operating in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Over the past decade, the company has successfully delivered thousands of solar photovoltaic (PV) infrastructure projects, working in close collaboration with farmers, local authorities, real estate owners and businesses.

The company offers a broad range of solar photovoltaic solutions, including solar installations on building rooftops, on the ground, on agricultural sheds or commercial carports, as well as floating PV installations. The portfolio also includes a range of autonomous solar lighting solutions.

CEO and co-founder Alain Desvigne explained how it all started: “The company was established in 2014 by four co-founders, all coming from different energy segments. Their combined knowledge and experience was a clear advantage. Although from different backgrounds, we came together with one common vision, namely that solar was going to be the predominant form of energy in the coming years.”

“This was not obvious at the start but we are happy to see this happening now, and not only in sunny parts of the world but everywhere, including rainy regions such as the UK, and Ireland where the company’s global headquarters is located.”

Today, Amarenco Group employs some 200 people in the three regions where the company operates – Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. One of the company’s key aspects is partnerships, something on which the Amarenco business model is based.

“As well as acquisitions, establishing joint ventures with local partners, is our growth model,” affirms Mr Desvigne, explaining that in the last five years, the company has completed 25 acquisitions worldwide. Outside Europe, Amarenco has sales offices in Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Dubai, Oman, Egypt and is just opening in Vietnam and Morocco, also via a joint venture.

Carbon and ecosystems

Amarenco develops, finances, builds and operates commercial and utility-scale solar PV projects.  “We are not a manufacturer, we are what we call an investor, developer and integrator; we contract large companies to pull the plans together. We design them, they procure all the components and build them.”

“Our goal is to produce electricity which is low-carbon and competitive using solar photovoltaic, a very simple and yet mature technology today. As this is possible only during the daytime, storage is a key element to enable its full utilisation. So, we have expanded from being a pure solar producer to energy storage integrator, to be able to deliver stable electricity which is low-carbon and competitive.”

He further explains that what makes Amarenco different is the fact that the company does not focus only on carbon but has a regeneration approach. “Wherever we deploy PV infrastructure we want to regenerate the eco system. This basically requires two actions.”

“If we want to reach the climate change objective by 2030, we need not only to reduce carbon emissions but also to store carbon emissions. The storage is in carbon wells, forests, oceans, but also in soil, which is one of the main carbon storages. We have the opportunity to use the technology on soil that has very little organic matter left, such as deserts. Our extensive regeneration programmes make soil absorb carbon emissions. That is the first action.”

The second action, he continues, is the company’s upcoming afforestation projects, focusing on agro-forestry. This does not apply only to tropical areas but can be implemented also in Europe. The company believes that this is the most regenerative farming solution that exists and the integration of PV technology and agro-forestry has a huge impact.

“These are the two main actions that we are focusing on. Being sustainable is a defensive mode. The way forward is being regenerative, to have a positive impact. This is the philosophy of the company, which we call regenerative capitalism,” he summarises the approach.

Staying focused

Mr Desvigne affirms that communication between the energy sector and agriculture is crucial, to make the most of combining PV and farming. “Amarenco is a champion in Europe in this respect – we have now bananas, vineyards, cherries and many more being grown as a result of this communication.”

“Agro PV is a big topic in areas where people are much more aware of energy security on one hand, and food security on the other. Countries like Japan or Taiwan, which strive for food autonomy, promote agro PV very vigilantly and are going for solar in a big way.”

The fact is that today solar energy can be produced at a highly competitive price even in countries like Ireland, and has proved to be more competitive than wind in a multi-energy option. Solar is now being selected over wind in many countries and opportunities are rising everywhere.

“The challenge is to stay focused and make the right decision,” he affirms. “This is what we have done, focusing only on Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and even in Asia we have been very selective. But the potential is huge. Despite many hurdles on the ground, the shift toward zero-carbon is accelerating.”

“We are planning new joint ventures in Vietnam, with Japan coming up, followed by Jordan, and Morocco is opening right now. Our model believes in local management and local ownerships. The combination of our technology implemented by strong partners in their markets has been shown to work to everyone’s satisfaction.”

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