Discover our upstream and downstream technical journals

European solar power services company Photon Energy claims an emphasis on new business areas including operations and maintenance (O&M), opened up new revenue streams to boost its group performance in the past quarter.

Photon released its Q1 2015 results on Friday. The Dutch-headquartered company remains in the red, reporting losses of 1.726 million (US$1.967 million) in the quarter, but nonetheless compared this favourably to the same period of last year in a statement issued to support the Q1 release. In Q1 2014, that figure stood at 2.376 million (US$2.708 million). The company’s earnings before interest, tax and depreciation (EBITDA) grew from 0.201 million (US$0.229 million) in the first quarter of last year to 0.523 million (US$0.596 million) this time around.

Compared to the admission in its 2014 end of year financial results that it had faced a “challenging year” and was opening new revenue streams to deal with the consequences, Photon said this time around that Q1 2015 “can be considered a success”.  

The company still had repayments to make, which drove cash flows down to negative sums, -0.751 million (-US$0.856 million) in operating cash flow for the quarter, which left Photon with 3.817 million(US$4.398 million) cash reserves by the end of the quarter. Energy production from plants the company operates was 16.5% above forecasts for the quarter, selling 4.5GWh of electricity, although this was a drop of 6% compared to Q1 2014.

Photon is one of a number of others stepping up its efforts in the O&M sector, with GTM Research forecasting in October last year that there will be a great deal of activity, including mergers and acquisitions, in the near future. Meanwhile last week, due to the growing importance of O&M, the European Photovoltaic Industries Association (EPIA) said it will form a taskforce for developing best practice guidelines in that area.

Photon spokesman Jan Krcmar told PV Tech this morning that around 20MWp of new O&M contracts were signed in Slovakia and the Czech Republic in the past three months by the company. Additionally, Krcmar said, work had begun on a modest 99kWp rooftop project in Sydney, while another Australia project, a solar-plus-storage installation at a broadcasting outpost, apparently faced a real test, operating in temperatures ranging from sub-zero to 40 centigrade.

As mentioned by Krcmar, In addition to O&M, Photon has been making enterprising moves into a number of other areas. Also moving into energy storage in Australia, the home country of one of its two directors and a region where the company has been gradually expanding its reach, Photon has also been vocal in launching investor protection services through a Swiss subsidiary, in particular for assets under threat from retroactive government support cuts, especially in Europe. Krcmar did not provide an update on this area this morning, however.

Moving forward, the company said it will focus on areas where grid parity is closer to attainment than others, mainly to avoid depending on such subsidies from governments. It will also step up its efforts in the areas of hybrid systems and diesel replacement solutions in energy intensive industries, the group report said.

“Diversification along the value chain and by geography are crucial for risk mitigation,” the report read.