Reported by Stella Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Could you tell us about Vario Green Energy?
The Vario green energy group was founded in 2000 and is a medium-sized provider of photovoltaic systems. The range of services encompasses plants for apartment houses, commercial building and free-standing plants from 5 kWp to 30 MWp. The company is organized according to products:
Vario green energy concept for roof plants, Vario green energy parks for free-standing plants, Vario green energy service for service and maintenance for PV plants, operation management and monitoring.
Our customers are private and institutional investors, professional trade companies (B2B) banks and funds, asset management companies and family offices.
Why did you choose the Slovak Republic for the solar installation site?
When the decision to invest was made, the Slovak Republic had an interesting feed-in law (0.3823 €/kWh) for the time period of 15 years. Since the middle of 2011, free-standing plants have no longer been approved and are no longer interesting for us at the time being. The Slovak market is good due to its manageable size for us as a medium-sized company. Thanks to its proximity to Austria, the infrastructure is good and the opportunities for German companies are also good.
What about the Slovak government policies for solar photovoltaics such as feed-in tariffs?
Free-standing plants of up to 1 MWp of generator power are remunerated at 0.3823 €/kWh over a 15-year period of time. After 15 years, the valid electricity price at that time will be remunerated as long as the plant produces electricity. Plants larger than 1 MWp will receive no more feed-in remuneration after 15 years. Since 1 July 2011, only roof-top plants of up to 100 kWp have been approved.
What was the biggest challenge faced when Vario was working on this project?
Acquiring the necessary approvals is much more extensive than it is in Germany. Mastering the bureaucratic hurdles is a great challenge and only possible if one is active--with an office on location and local employees, as we are.
The greatest hurdle is the financing, since Slovak banks are restrictive and do not have customer-oriented conditions.
How can that challenge best be overcome?
With a lot of patience and good employees on location! Important are still having qualified advisors in the sectors of taxes and contract arrangement.
Tell us more about the total power of 6.2 MW project. Is it still feeding in electricity into the local grid successfully now?
Since we commissioned the plant, it has been in operation without interruption, so we assume that it will feed approx. 8.5 million kWh into the grid per year. The high quality of all the components will lead to an operation without disruptions over long periods of time and, thus, secure feed-in power.
You set up the solar parks along with the assembly company and a local grid connection partner. Did the partnership go well with the project?
The partnership has worked very well. What was important for us was that competent project leaders monitored the building progress. Furthermore, we contracted the TUV Sud (the Southern German Technical Service Corporation) to test the work, so that we could provide neutral advisory opinions to the institutes financing the work.
Do you have more plans to launch some projects abroad?
Currently we are planning a 26-MWp park in Bulgaria and five solar parks with a power of 6-17 MWp in Romania. These parks will be built in 2012. We are planning to sell all of these plants to institutional, international investors.
What do you see in Asian markets or out of Europe?
We see these markets as markets of the future with enormous potential to grow. We assume, however, that mainly local providers build the power plants in Asia, and for this reason we are currently focusing on Europe and in the medium term we are planning on investing in America and Canada.
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