BayWa: COVID-19 impacts ‘not possible’ to predict after RES unit’s strong 2019

Image credit: BayWa r.e.

BayWa AG has refrained from making performance predictions for 2020 while COVID-19’s implications remain unclear, following a strong year for its renewable energy unit.

The Munich-headquartered group – the parent of green energy developer BayWa r.e. – said this week “it is not possible” to properly anticipate its results in 2020 given the “incalculable” impacts the pandemic could have on global economies as the year goes on.

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In a statement, BayWa AG CEO Klaus Josef Lutz said however the firm is confident its diversified model – with operations in the energy but also farming, building materials and technology sectors – leaves it “well positioned” to face the difficulties the global health emergency may create.

The remarks came as part of full-year financial results showing BayWa AG's renewable unit enjoyed a buoyant 2019. Last year, the division scored a net operating profit of €101 million (US$111 million) and boosted EBITDA by 43.9% to €137.9 million (US$153 million).

BayWa r.e.’s typical develop-to-sell approach saw it offload a 911.6MW fleet of solar and wind plants in 2019, more than twice the 453MW figure in 2018. The projects sold included the 50MW sequel to its Don Rodrigo subsidy-free sequel in Spain, exited so far to insurers and asset managers.

Last year also brought boosts to BayWa r.e.’s service operations, with the portfolio of renewable plants under management swelling from 5.7GW to 8.3GW. For its part, the separate business for the trading of PV components saw a 70% rise to 927MWp, helped along by falling module costs.

New shareholder expected for unit eyeing 690MW of new PV

Whatever the ultimate impacts of COVID-19, BayWa r.e.’s new year is likely to bring a new shareholder. In its financial update, parent BayWa AG said it will look for “new partners” to inject fresh capital into BayWa r.e., with plans nonetheless to remain the majority owner.

While not providing specific numbers, BayWa r.e.’s parent said the unit is expected to end 2020 with similar revenues and EBIT to those of 2019. A larger portion of revenues will come this year from the sale of project rights, which typically hold “slimmer margins” versus the completion of plants.

BayWa r.e.’s work going forward will start with a current 1.2GW pipeline of green energy projects. According to the financial update, 690MW of it is solar assets, chiefly split between the US (which alone accounts for 50%-plus of the overall pipeline), the Netherlands and Mexico.

In the Dutch market, developments will be steered mainly through GroenLeven, a company majority-owned by BayWa AG and boasting a 2GW-plus solar pipeline. Projects coming up next include a 27.4MWp floating PV park, the successor to 2.1MWp, 8.5MWp and 14.5MWp plants.

Elsewhere, BayWa r.e. will fund and develop a 200MW solar duo in Spain as part of a deal with Budweiser brewer AB InBev. Backed by a 10-year virtual power purchase agreement, the two plants are meant to reach the commissioning stage by March 2022.

As for BayWa AG’s PV component trading business, the firm expects to see continued growth in 2020 off the back of high demand and attractive module prices. This side of the business will be helped along by the takeover last year of Canadian specialist National Solar Distributors, BayWa AG said.

The prospects and challenges of solar's new era in Europe will take centre stage at Large Scale Solar Europe 2020 (Lisbon, on 30 June-1 July 2020).

This publication has also set up a tracker to map out how the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting solar supply chains worldwide. You can read the latest updates here.

If you have a COVID-19 statement to share or a story on how the pandemic is disrupting a solar business anywhere in the world, do get in touch at [email protected] or [email protected].

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