Voltalia confident about renewable plans in 2020 despite COVID-19 spread

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Voltalia is due to break ground in H1 2020 on a 270MW PV duo in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Norte. Image credit: Pedro Menezes / Unsplash

Voltalia has maintained its renewable growth forecasts for 2020 despite the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, noting however there is a chance the emergency could delay some contracts.

Over the weekend, the French group said it will not change for now its target to take its installed green energy portfolio from 717MW today to 1GW by year-end, even as the pandemic spreads worldwide to the various global regions the firm operates in.

“As the Covid-19 outbreak is putting a lot of stress on people and economy around the world, we belong to a very resilient sector with revenues secured by long-term contracts,” said Voltalia CEO Sébastien Leclerc as he unveiled the group’s full-year results for 2019 and prospects for 2020.

The update indicates Voltalia expects “neither short- nor long-term impacts” from COVID-19 on its energy sales activities. The firm claims to have already lined up over €5 billion (US$5.35 billion) in contracted revenues, with energy sale deals each stretching across an average of 17.1 years.

The firm also believes the pandemic will not stop it from reaching the €160-180 million (US$171-193 million) EBITDA range it had already guided for 2020. A €111 million share (US$120 million) will come from its operational 717MW, with under-construction projects set to cover the remainder.

Voltalia’s solar portfolio as of the end of December 2019

Country Installed capacity Solar electricity generation
Egypt 32MW 12.7GWh
France 72.7MW 78.9GWh
French Guiana 6.2MW 3.0GWh
Greece 4.7MW 7.1GWh
United Kingdom 7.3MW 7.8GWh
Portugal 4.7MW 6.2GWh
Italy 8.1MW 8.8GWh
Belgium 11.3MW 10.1GWh
Spain 11.3MW N/A
Source: Voltalia’s full-year financial results for 2019

The group expects 357MW of its under-construction 508MW green energy pipeline will be complete by year-end. It noted, however, that COVID-19 could hinder component supply and spark construction delays, even if shipments have already been fully contracted for the plants being built.

“Although it is not the case so far, some Services clients could request Voltalia to postpone the execution of certain development or construction contracts due to the Covid-19,” the firm said, promising to update the market over any delays that might emerge with plant commissioning.

In addition, Voltalia acknowledged its €160-180 million EBITDA goal for 2020 will be “sensitive” to the volatility seen with the Euro-to-Brazilian-Real exchange rate since the onset of COVID-19. The exposure comes from a large Brazilian pipeline, including its Solar Serra do Mel 270MW PV duo.

Energy operators stick to 2020 plans as COVID-19 looms

Voltalia’s faith in its 2020 prospects mirrors the cautious optimism seen in recent updates of other energy firms. Italian giant Enel talked last week of “no material” COVID-19 impacts, amid similar messages from US Solar Fund, Solaria Corporation, Vivint Solar and others.

The pandemic’s global trajectory has seen it spread from the initial outbreak in China to some of Voltalia’s core solar markets, including its home country of France (16,720 virus cases nationwide at the time of writing), Brazil (1,619), Egypt (327), Portugal (2,060) and Kenya (15).

The global health crisis finds Voltalia working to deliver long-term green energy targets. Having seen 2018-to-2019 declines in revenues, EBITDA, EBITDA margins and net profits, the firm is hoping to reach 2.6GW in renewable projects in operation or under construction by 2023. 

PV Tech has 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.

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).

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