Enviromena: First mover advantageby David Ingham on Jun 5, 2014
It was 2008 when Enviromena, a one year old solar EPC contractor, started putting together a 10MW PV plant for the Abu Dhabi-based Masdar Institute. Back then, the cost of building the plant was around three times higher than it would be now and no-one really knew how solar PV panels would fare in the Middle East’s 50 degree summer temperatures.
Fast forward to the present, and the price of solar PV hardware has tumbled, renewable energy has moved up the agenda and Enviromena has learned lots and lots about how those PV panels perform in the dust, heat and haze of the Middle East. The company has picked up a host of contracts on the way and believes it has now installed around 45% of grid-connected solar capacity in the MENA region.
It’s been steady progress and the company’s 29 permanent employees are all busy, but Enviromena believes the region’s PV market could be about to step up another level. “We’ve got this nearly 50% market share for all of the grid-connected solar PV in the Middle East and North Africa. That’s quite an accomplishment from our perspective and now we are at this inflection point where solar has achieved competitiveness with conventional energy,” says Sander Trestain, the company’s executive director of projects and one of three co-founders along with CEO, Sami Khoreibi, and executive director of operations, Erik Voldner.
“What we are seeing is a massive swing in the uptake of solar. This is a transition period for us to go into much larger, much more utility-scale projects and it’s an exciting moment to be the market leader.”
Enviromena came about after Khoreibi, who was then working in the energy industry, met with representatives of the Masdar Initiative during a business trip to the region. The future CEO took his findings back to fellow Canadians Trestain and Voldner, who both have an engineering background. A period of intense market and technology research began and Enviromena was formed in 2007.
“The opportunity for us to be pioneers in introducing a new energy technology into the region was hugely exciting,” says Khoreibi. “That was the real motivator.
“The fact we’re producing clean energy is very important to us. It was a very big factor in the ambitions and intentions of not just ourselves, but a lot of the government programmes that were launched at the time in 2007.”
What: Solar PV EPC contractor
Founders: Sami Khoreibi, Sander Trestain, Erik Voldner
Outside investors: Masdar, Good Energies, Zouk
Key projects: Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Plant, Noakchott, Mauritania;
Masdar Solar Power Plant, Abu Dhabi
Progress to date: More than 30 projects in six countries; around 40MW of installed capacity; 45% share of MENA grid-connected capacity
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