LET IT SHINE

Panama 2017 | GREEN ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Pierluigi Borgogna, Director of Thesan, on maximizing the entire value chain, why Panama is a long-term commitment, and how to bring 24/7 renewable energy to the whole country.

Pierluigi Borgogna
BIOGRAPHY
Pierluigi Borgogna has been involved in the renewable energy sector since 2010. He began his career in the PV industry, developing and financing more than 100MWp in Italy. In 2013, he joined Thesan as director of the Renewable Energy Division and was responsible for the sale of mounting systems, EPC, and worldwide investment in utility scale solar power plants. He established branches in the US, Mexico, Panama, Colombia, and Brazil, and completed solar power plants in Europe and Latin America worth more than USD100 million. Prior to renewables, Borgogna worked in corporate finance and M&A. He has a master of science in administration, corporate finance, and control from Bocconi University (Milano).

Can you tell us about the history of Thesan in Panama and its core businesses?

Thesan is an Italian company established in 2008 with two different divisions: a renewable and clean energy division and an air quality and energy saving one that develops various devices to improve indoor air quality. The main markets for the air quality and energy saving division are China, India, and other countries with high levels of pollution. Thesan is a fully integrated player in the renewable energy division. We focus our attention and activity on the entire value chain, starting from the development of the project to the production of mounting systems and the construction of photovoltaic plants, including engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) activities. We also have a business unit that operates as an independent power producer (IPP), which is focused only on solar investments at the moment. Our operations started in 2010 with the development of 50MWp projects in Italy, and we later expanded, entering Romania before coming to Latin America, beginning with Brazil and Ecuador. We started operations in Ecuador in 2012, and after two years of development built seven projects under a government concession to sell energy at a preferred rate to local distribution companies. These were successfully completed and connected in 2014, and were one of the first solar projects financed by Corporacion Interamericana para el Financiamiento de Infraestructura (CIFI) in Ecuador. CIFI is an important player in terms of infrastructure financing and investment in Latin America and provided us with another credit line that supported the development of our business in the region.

What is the importance of Panama, considering the group's regional and international activities?

We have been in Panama since 2015, although it was too early as the main law that introduced tax benefits for solar and renewable energy had only been passed in 2014. By 2016, we had several projects under development, and we currently operate all the main business units in Panama, including EPC, O&M, and IPP. We chose to enter the Panamanian market because it is centrally located, developed for the region, and has one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America. It also has infrastructure and an open economy similar to Europe or North America. Since it uses USD, there is no currency risk. We were coming to Panama regardless of whether there were any tax or incentives from the government. Our first project here was a 10MWp power plant worth more than USD12.5 million. The plant sells energy to private (wholesale) clients under a PPA scheme. It was the first solar PPA in Panama providing 24/7 energy all year round. We signed 20-year PPAs at a price linked to local inflation so that companies can calculate the cost of their energy. We sell at a lower price compared to distributors and provide energy directly to the client. In order to back up our plant we signed a long-term backup agreement with another renewable energy generator. We have a 20-year commitment to this country, which means we consider it one of the most important markets in our portfolio.

What distinguishes Thesan from its competitors in the region?

We have in-house engineers and an R&D team, both in Italy and in each country. We produce a part of the plant's aluminum mounting system that is designed and manufactured in Italy. We provide O&M and EPC services as well as asset management. We have experience worldwide and in the region and have created great synergies with international and local financial institutions. We have a flexible approach that enables us to structure our operations to suit our clients' needs across the value chain, provide construction financing, and have extensive experience in engineering development as well as financial structuring and planning.