aventron AG (“aventron”) and Aberdeen Standard Investments (“ASI”) have agreed to merge their small scale hydropower portfolios to create Norway’s third largest small-scale hydro operator with annual production capacity of 460 GWh
aventron and ASI’s combined portfolio will focus on the development, construction, production and distribution of renewable energy through hydropower as well as wind power in Norway. The combined portfolio comprises 41 small scale hydro power plants (including one plant under construction) as well as an operational wind farm and a further wind farm under construction. The group also benefits from a strong pipeline of small scale hydro and wind projects. Combined annual production capacity is expected to reach c.460 GWh once all projects are fully operational.
The hydropower sector in Norway is one of the most developed in the world and benefits from significant development and consolidation potential. With aventron’s assets mostly located in south Norway and ASI’s portfolio primarily based in the north of the country, the two portfolios are highly complementary. The merger provides geographical diversity, operational synergy potential and further de-risks the business by enhancing the long term competitive position of the joint company.
The merger has been achieved through a contribution in kind, with aventron becoming the majority shareholder of the joint entity, aventron Norway AS. ASI through its first infrastructure fund, SL Capital Infrastructure I LP, will hold a substantial minority position with governance rights. The merged entity will benefit from having an aligned shareholder group bringing together experienced partners with deep renewable infrastructure knowledge. The shareholders are aligned in their ambition of driving further, sustainable growth for the business while continuing to focus on delivering the highest standard of safety, respect for the environment and operational reliability.
aventron is significantly expanding electricity production from wind power. Over the next few months, 28 megawatts of additional wind power capacity in Germany, France and Norway will be connected to the grid.
Wind energy accounted for more than 50 percent of the aventron Group’s sales in 2020. This makes wind power an important pillar of the group. This is especially true with regard to electricity production in the winter months, when photovoltaics naturally yields less. To further strengthen its portfolio, aventron last week signed the purchase agreement for the acquisition of the Hellberge V wind farm from the international project developer Energiequelle GmbH. This 7,0 megawatt wind farm south of Berlin ideally complements the existing aventron wind farm Hellberge III with 6,1 megawatts from 2014. The wind farm, which is currently under construction, will go into operation in October 2021.
At the same time, aventron is pleased to announce the completion of the erection of the 8,0 megawatt La Chapelle Baloue wind farm in the Creuse department of Limousin, France. The four wind turbines at the windy site are expected to feed the first kilowatthours into the grid at the end of May.
Finally, construction work on the 12,6 megawatt Gismarvik wind farm is progressing well. The wind farm, which consists of three wind turbines in the Haugesund region of Norway, is scheduled to go into operation in the fourth quarter of this year. Gismarvik is located not far from the existing 6,4 megawatt aventron wind farm Storoy.
For further expansion of aventron’s wind power portfolio, the team is working primarily along the lines of consolidation, long-term partnerships with developers and own project developments. This will allow aventron to further increase its wind capacity despite strong competition. The focus will always be on diversification within aventron between the three resources of wind, water and sun.
aventron was able to maintain its margins despite low power market prices.
aventron generated in 2020 1’054 Gigawatt-hours of renewable energy and a revenue from the sales of energy of 103,7 (PY 102.5) million Swiss francs. The reduction in demand due to the COVID 19 pandemic and exceptional weather conditions in Norway put pressure on market prices and thus on the Group’s sales. At the same time, aventron commissioned new power plants. For example, the 50 Megawatt solar power plant Bargas in Spain, which was connected to the grid in June 2020, contributed 2 million Swiss francs to sales for the first time.
The EBIT-margin over energy sales attained 30% and delivered an EBIT of 31.5 (PY 32.4) million francs. The net income lay at 12.7 (PY 13.0) million francs.
By the end of 2020 the portfolio consisted of 604 (PY 545) MW installed capacity in power plants in operation or in construction. The wind segment delivered 57 percent of the revenues. 30 percent stemmed from the solar PV segment and 13 percent from the hydro segment.
The Board of Directors proposes to the General Meeting a dividend of 0.26 (PY 0.26) Swiss franc per share. The Annual General Meeting of aventron AG will take place on 15 April 2021. Due to COVID-19 related sanitary restrictions the AGM will be held in written form without presence of the shareholders. In 2020 aventron invested 37.1 million francs in the acquisition of existing power plants and in the construction of its own generating capacity. The balance sheet per year end amounts to 758.1 (PY 743.8) million francs. By the end of 2020 the aventron group held liquid assets totaling 75.8 (PY 69.1) million francs
HIAG and aventron set up the joint venture HIAG Solar in order to increase solar power production on the properties in HIAG’s real estate portfolio in the long term. HIAG holds 49% and aventron 51% of HIAG Solar AG.
With a planned module surface of approximately 65,000 m2 and an output of around 10 MWp, HIAG Solar intends to become a major solar power producer in Switzerland in the mid-term and to successively increase its production capacity. The company is striving for an annual power production of around 10 million kWh and CO2 equivalent savings of around 4.2 million tonnes. The first four plants are already in the planning stage and are expected to start power production in 2021 and 2022.
“The existing and planned properties in HIAG’s real estate portfolio are ideally suited for systematic expansion with photovoltaic systems,” explains Marco Feusi, CEO of HIAG, “power production from renewable energy sources will thus take on an even more important role in HIAG’s sustainability strategy, along with the existing photovoltaic systems and our hydroelectric power plants.”
For aventron CEO Antoine Millioud, HIAG Solar represents a perfect match: “HIAG owns very large roof areas in Switzerland and aventron has proven expertise in the planning, implementation and operation of high-performance solar power plants.”
In the first half of 2020, aventron has produced 550 GWh of renewable energy and, in doing so, has generated a net income of CHF 10.3 million. The installed capacity has grown to 564 megawatts (482 megawatts as of half year 2019).
aventron had a strong start in 2020 generating revenues from the supply of energy amounting to CHF 55.3 million (prev. year CHF 54.2 million) with an EBIT of CHF 20,5 million (prev. year CHF 19,2 million). With its power plants in six countries, aventron produced 550 GWh (prev. year 490 GWh) of renewable energy, significantly more than expected due to good weather conditions. As at the reporting date aventron operates in Europe a portfolio of 564 MW (prev. year 482 MW). The main contribution to the increase of the installed capacity has been the commissioning of the 50 MW solar power plant Bargas in Spain.
In relation to revenues, the EBITDA margin is slightly higher at 72,7 (71,3) percent and the EBIT margin at 38,0 (35,1) percent. The half-yearly net income came in at CHF 10,3 million (prev. year 8,5 million). The half yearly net income per share increased to 0.210 swiss francs per share (prev. year 0.195). For 2020 as a whole, management expects somewhat subdued annual results due to lower energy market prices. The exceptionally mild winter 2019/20 has put pressure on electricity prices in Norway, while the COVID crisis will lead to reduced economic output in Europe in general. As over 80 percent of the Group’s net revenues are hedged, the discount will be limited. aventron’s business model proves to be robust.