WIND

Toni Volpe, CEO, Nadara: ‘There’s a rush to quality and reliability’

Toni Volpe, CEO of Nadara, which is the company formed following the merger of Renantis and Ventient Energy, spoke to A Word About Wind about the company’s growth plans and the importance of reliable projects amid current market challenges.

RICHARD HEAP

July 3, 2024

  • Nadara launched in March after Renantis and Ventient merged
  • The company has 4.2GW operational and 18GW in development
  • Volpe said its focus is on reliability and strong asset management
  • Nadara yesterday unveiled its strategy to scale the business

 

This week, European players Renantis and Ventient Energy have completed their merger as Nadara.

The tie-up has created one of Europe’s largest independent power producers, with 4.2GW of renewables projects in operation and 18GW more in development. The companies were both strong in their own right: Renantis was previously known as Falck Renewables and has been in operation since 2002, while Ventient was set up in 2017 and grew its portfolio of wind farms to 1.9GW by 2019. But the merged company wants to build on that strength and has today unveiled its growth plans.

A Word About Wind spoke to Toni Volpe, chief executive of Nadara, about how the merger came about and the company’s expansion strategy. He also explained why he sees transmission and the availability of skilled contractors as the sector’s biggest challenges.

 

Natural portfolio

Renantis and Ventient Energy were both portfolio companies of JP Morgan Asset Management and announced their merger in June 2023. The pair officially became one company in January 2024, and announced the ‘Nadara’ name in March 2024 based on the Scottish Gaelic word ‘nàdarra’, which means ‘natural’.

The combined company’s portfolio is mostly made up of wind farms, which account for 4GW of the total 4.2GW operational capacity, and is split between nine European countries and the US. This includes 1.1GW of onshore wind capacity in 46 UK projects, as well as significant portfolios in its other core markets including Portugal (917MW), Spain (609MW), France (534MW) and Italy (292MW).

Volpe said the company would focus on growing its onshore wind, solar and storage assets in the short-term, and would add offshore wind in the long-term. Nadara has 8.6GW of floating offshore wind farms in development in Italy (5.5GW) and the UK (3.1GW) by Renantis.

There are three main pillars of the Nadara business: developing new assets, managing operational assets, and energy trading.

In development, Volpe said Nadara wanted to be hands on from the early stages of the process and through its life cycle including engineering and procurement.

This hands on approach continues into the asset management of its operational projects. He said: “It’s not just about contracting with third parties and have a light touch on operations. It’s about truly having the ability to step in and potentially self-perform a number of activities, in particular those driven by the analysis of data coming from our wind and solar projects.”

Finally, in energy management, Volpe said the company wants to be actively involved so it can maximise the returns from the power it creates. It aims to achieve this “by actively dispatching that energy on the electricity markets or contracting long-term with off-takers… but also having the ability to participate in capacity markets or other ancillary services”.

 

Challenging environment

Volpe said the biggest challenge for European renewables companies is the state of the electricity grid, because this affects where renewables projects can be built.

He said this made it attractive for Nadara to look at opportunities to repower projects: “We try to see the opportunities that can be obtained by looking at the existing asset base, so co-location for example of solar projects where you have wind… We start from there because we can leverage on one of the scarce assets, which is the existing interconnection, but we have a lot of greenfield projects too.”

Volpe said another issue for developers is finding EPC (engineering, construction and procurement) contractors that can complete its projects, due to the number of smaller players in the market: “That is not really consolidated at the moment. There are lots of players, so you need to judge those that are going to be reliable, that are going to be there long-term, and that you can count on to deliver your projects,” he argued.

However, Volpe is less concerned about permitting of projects. Developers would always want the process to be faster, but he recognised that it is important for authorities to consult with communities and that there are large numbers of projects in the development pipeline.

“It could clearly get better, but we can live with what we have,” he said, and added it was good to see countries trying to speed up the permitting process. Volpe said this also demonstrated why it is important for companies to focus on viable projects.

He said: “In many countries there’s a backlog of projects in interconnection queues or development queues – three, four or five times the number they need by 2030 – but more probably have to look at what they have in the pipeline. Are they credible projects? Are they backed by credible investors? Are they going to convert or not?”

He said there would be a “rush to quality, reliability and dependability rather than size or amount of projects”, and so Nadara would make a virtue of its track record for successfully delivering projects.

“Ultimately, we want to be recognised as a company that is stable and reliable, and we are blessed to have an investor that is a long-term investor that aligns with the purpose and nature of the company.”