BEST IN THE BUSINESS

Spain 2020 | GREEN ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

The key to sustainable success is investing in markets with potential, regulatory transparency, and legal certainty.

Rocío Sicre
BIOGRAPHY

Rocío Sicre has a degree in business administration and management from the University College of Financial Studies (CUNEF). She has developed her entire career around renewable energy with a specialization in energy and financing: first in the former Union Fenosa Special Energies, where she served in various functions in the economic and legal area, and later in financial management. Subsequently, she was director of structured financing at the Hidrocantábrico Group (today part of EDP). She was appointed general director of EDPR for Spain in 2018, a position she continues to hold.

EDPR opened its first plant in Spain in 1997. How would you describe the evolution of EDP Renewables?
EDPR in Spain has grown over the last 20 years. It is one of our home markets and the second biggest in terms of installed capacity with a total of 2,312MW. More specifically, we operate wind farms in Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, the Canary Islands, Castile-La Mancha, Castile, León, Catalonia, and Galicia. We have more than 400 employees in the country based in our wind farms and headquarters in Madrid.

EDPR is one of the main players in the wind energy production sector, reporting 14% growth in 2018. How does EDPR sustain this growth?
Our growth reinforces the conviction that our business plan is sound, and that we need to continue on the same path. Indeed, our growth is sustained by the pillars on which we base our strategy. First, we invest in markets with potential, regulatory transparency, and legal certainty. Second, we seek out opportunities, branch out into new markets, and consolidate our growth in markets where we already operate. Finally, our commitment to innovation has allowed us to diversify our business' technology mix. At present, our business is bolstered by three main types of technology: onshore wind farms, offshore wind farms, and photovoltaic solar installations. Nevertheless, this is consolidated by other technological innovations such as the renewable energy storage models. We also recently opened a plant in Romania. Another innovation is the hybrid system like the one we piloted in Cadiz, which sought synergies between an onshore wind farm and a photovoltaic solar power facility.

EDPR is now present in 14 markets following the recent launch in Colombia, its third market in Latin America. How important is Latin America for EDPR?
We constantly study possibilities to enter new markets, which has enabled us to position ourselves in 14 countries across three continents, generating electricity in 11 of them. In this regard, branching out into the Colombian market was a milestone that was made possible after winning a 20-year electricity auction. The concession from the Colombian government was for two onshore wind energy projects, Alpha for 212MW and Beta for 280MW. We are currently working on both, and they are expected to commence commercial operations by 2022. These Colombian projects will be in addition to the 467MW of installed capacity that we already have in Brazil and the 200MW in Mexico and will highlight the importance of the Latin American market in our business plan. EDPR will also continue investing in markets with regulatory stability and solid growth opportunities. Several countries in Latin America meet these criteria.

EDPR recently signed an asset rotation agreement for wind farms in Europe. What role do such partnerships play for EDPR and the sector?
EDP Renewables has reached an agreement with institutional investors advised by JP Morgan Asset Management to sell all its shares and outstanding equity loans in an operating portfolio of onshore wind energy with an installed capacity of 997MW for EUR800 million. This agreement is part of our asset rotation program for 2019-2022. In this context, we will sell our majority stakes in projects that are in operation or under development, while we continue to provide operating and maintenance services. This will help EDPR boost value generation and secure immediate profits to reinvest in the company's gradual growth.

EDPR was named Spain's best employer in 2019. What does this mean for EDPR given that employee retention is one of the biggest challenges for companies?
We were named best employer in 2019 in Europe overall as well as in Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, and the UK. This would not have been possible without our human resource policies, since EDPR aims to support employees at every stage of their development within the company.