German agriculture group BayWa has said its renewables business saw an “unusually strong” start to the year, driven by high demand for solar modules and the sale of a PV plant in Japan.
The BayWa r.e. unit, which develops clean energy projects and distributes solar equipment, benefitted from “brisk demand” for modules during the first quarter of the year, especially from Europe, the company said.
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Responding to the growth for its solar distribution business in Europe in recent years, BayWa r.e. opened three new warehouses in the continent during the quarter, and is expecting to open a fourth in Q2.
Following on from the sale of a 11.9MW solar project in Japan last December, the unit sold the 35MW Isohara plant, which is located on the country’s east coast and became operational in January.
The deal helped BayWa r.e. post a 73% year-on-year increase in Q1 revenues to €662.1 million (US$800.1 million), while earnings before interest and tax reached €33.7 million.
This year is the first in which the capital increase at BayWa r.e., which involved the sale of a 49% stake in the unit to a Swiss investor, will have an effect. The developer is planning to build solar and wind projects with a total capacity of 1.1GW in 2021, forecasting a sharp increase in renewable plant sales during the second half of the year.
Notable announcements from BayWa r.e. during Q1 saw it sign what it claims is the first corporate power purchase agreement for a solar project in Poland, with offtaker HeidelbergCement set to buy power from a 64.6MWp PV plant.
The BayWa Group, which also includes agriculture and building materials businesses, saw its Q1 revenues increase 10% year-on-year to €4.27 billion, representing a “a sensational start to the year”, according to CEO Klaus Josef Lutz. Thanks to the firm’s diversified portfolio, he expects it to match 2020’s record figures this year.