Iberdrola ramps up investments to stave off pandemic impacts, boost supply chains

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The 500MW Nunez de Balboa solar farm completed by Iberdrola late last year. Image: Iberdrola.

Multinational utility Iberdrola is maintaining its course for green power, ramping up investments in order to stave off the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reporting its Q1 2020 performance this morning, Iberdrola noted that multi-billion-euro investments in, amongst other sectors, renewables and digital capabilities had allowed the company to sidestep any early effects of the virus, noting a 5.3% increase in net profit to €968 million.

In addition, Iberdrola said the impact of the pandemic on its business was “under control”, that mitigating actions enacted by the company – around 95% of its workforce is now working remotely and field personnel had been given protective equipment – had allowed the company to “largely cushion” itself from the broader impacts of the pandemic.

It also stressed that with liquidity in the region of €14.4 billion, it had enough cash for 30 months of business operations under a “normal scenario”.

Iberdrola stressed that the financial health of the business had allowed it to maintain its course for greener pastures, stressing its commitment to build out gigawatts of renewables this year. The last 12 months have seen Iberdrola commission around 5.5GW of renewables capacity, 1.2GW of which was installed in Q1 2020.

This includes the 500MW Núñez de Balboa solar farm in Spain – Europe’s largest to date – which was commissioned towards the end of 2019. Iberdrola will now follow that up with a raft of new solar projects in the region, work having resumed earlier this month following a state-enforced shutdown of construction works.

Expenditure hikes and 5,500 hires to boost supply chain

Iberdrola has too committed to support its supply chain throughout the current market uncertainty. It said it had accelerated procurement processes of late, increasing its expenditure by almost a quarter (24%) to €3.8 billion.

Those investments are being accelerated to, the utility said, drive the recovery of economies and employment in the sector, Iberdrola itself having maintained plans set before the pandemic to hire up to 5,500 new staff this year.

In doing so, Iberdrola chairman Ignacio Galán added his voice to the growing chorus of energy heavyweights stressing that if economies needed industries to help drive post-pandemic recovery, they need look no further than renewables.

“[There] is complete consensus that the road to economic recovery must be green, with the fight against climate change at its core. The European Green Deal and the National Energy and Climate Plans across the EU already provide a clear pathway. Iberdrola is fully prepared to help deliver these targets,” he said.

The success of its renewables business had, Iberdrola said, helped it offset more difficult operating climates in other sectors, most notably Spain’s retail market. A 3% slide in electricity demand – coupled with a 37% collapse in the country’s wholesale price – contributed towards a 3% slip in earnings from the Spanish market.

PV Tech has set up a dedicated 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 jrojo@solarmedia.co.uk or lstoker@solarmedia.co.uk.

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