The sun is an unlimited source of power. Thankfully, we live in a time where we can effectively harness solar power using different technologies and infrastructures. It is a proven fact that collecting and utilizing the sun’s energy is an efficient and cost-effective way to further sustainability goals of any organization.
Transnational governments and environmental leaders have been pushing for the strict implementation of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) measures across industries. As a result, the need of the hour for industries is to implement sustainable energy solutions within their operations. Utilizing the sun’s energy to implement renewable energy measures is gaining significant momentum across industries.
Providing the solution for companies to meet their energy requirements by harnessing the power of the sun, is Sonnedix.
The company develops, builds, and operates solar renewable energy projects globally, with over 9 GW of total capacity, including more than 6 GW under development in Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the USA, and the UK.
We had a wonderful opportunity to interview members of the Sonnedix team to discuss insights of the company’s journey in developing and maintaining efficient renewable energy resources on a global platform. The team included Dijana Vlaisavljevic – Head of ESG, Valentina Piraino – Head of Strategic Transactions, and Clement Descubes – VP Strategic Transactions.
Let’s explore Sonnedix’s story of becoming an internationally established renewable energy solution provider.
Building a Bright, Sustainable Future
Sonnedix is an international Renewable Energy Producer with over a decade-long trajectory of sustainable growth.
The company focuses on providing green, affordable electricity to its customers, acting as a true social citizen there where it operates. Its expertise and financial strength enable the company to build trusted relationships with customers and partners to smartly expand the adoption and impact of renewable energy to create a sustainable future for all.
Sonnedix’s team ensures they properly measure and report progress, holding themselves accountable for their sustainability.
Dijana affirms, “At Sonnedix, we strive to achieve this transparency and accountability through the publication of our annual sustainability reports on our website, internal and external communication efforts, and social media platforms.”
Creating a Sustainable Competitive Advantage
Today’s corporations are focused on balancing all the ESG components: the environmental, social, and governance. That is why, while developing new or existing projects, it is ensured that the proper measures are taken to estimate their impact on all three factors.
Through strong ESG governance, as laid out in the company’s sustainability strategy and ESG policies and standards, Sonnedix manages its impact and strives to ensure that its projects and operations are environmentally restorative, socially just, and economically inclusive.
“Our focus is not just on managing ESG risk and ensuring regulatory compliance. Our management recognizes that ESG contributes to creating a sustainable competitive advantage through many avenues, such as increased access to financing and green and sustainable lending; better employee satisfaction, motivation, and engagement; improved reputation; cost reduction through greater resource efficiency; enhanced investment returns, amongst others, which all lead to improved competitiveness and value for our shareholders,” said Dijana.
Conquering the Challenges
Compared to other industries, renewable energy is new. People have yet to fully realize its true potential. When we asked the team of Sonnedix the kind of challenges the company must overcome over time, Valentina Piraino, Head of Strategic Transactions, stated, “Like other companies operating in a young industry, one of the biggest challenges faced by Sonnedix at the very beginning has been accessing stable financial backing to support its ambitious growth plans. Political challenges in countries where the transition to renewables has been left behind has also posed a threat.”
But times are changing, and competition within the industry is emergent.
“Today, technical challenges and a highly competitive landscape require continued innovation efforts to achieve the best performance (e.g., battery storage) and the most creative solutions,” added Valentina.
Leading the Way with Technology
In efforts toward bringing sustainable solutions to the industrial world, technology plays a significant role. We spoke with Clement Descubes, VP Strategic Transactions, about the importance of modern technology in creating renewable solutions.
He shares, “The renewable energy sector has always pioneered the use of modern technologies throughout all phases of the project. I believe we will continue to do so in the future to ensure the lowest price of energy and the best support for the energy grid.”
According to Clement, Sonnedix has always taken a proactive approach in this space and will keep leading the way forward. whether through hybridization of solar PV plants with storage, the adoption of more advanced technologies in PV modules, the improvement of the company’s energy production forecasting capabilities, or predictive maintenance planning thanks to artificial intelligence (AI).
A Word of Advice
As businesses race to meet their ESG goals, the demand for renewable energy solutions is among the fastest growing across industries. Naturally, to meet these demands, entrepreneurs are coming up with new sustainable solutions in the market.
When asked what recommendations she would like to provide to such individuals, Valentina said, “Few but essential tips: Make a reliable brand and a culture built around people as the core principle. Promote diverse leadership. Have a long-term vision. Connect with your local communities.”
Moreover, team member Clement shared that Sonnedix would like to support such entrepreneurs.
“Sonnedix, amongst other actors within the industry, is eager to support bold endeavors from smart and enthusiastic people that would like to venture into the renewables sector. We would be happy to share our global approach with entrepreneurs with interest in the industry, so please do not hesitate to contact us,” added Clement.
The Future Roadmap
Speaking about the future roadmap for Sonnedix in promoting sustainability in business operations and with stakeholders, Dijana Vlaisavljevic, Head of ESG of Sonnedix, said, “At the moment, we are focusing on delivering our sustainability strategy commitments, improving the robustness of our ESG disclosures, developing our net zero roadmap and enhancing community engagement across all our jurisdictions.”
In addition, the company is also making efforts toward encouraging girls to engage in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.
“Some of our educational initiatives specifically target girls, for example, encouraging their participation in STEM throughout Europe, the UK, and the US,” Dijana told us.
The Sonnedix team is always seeking innovations to widen its reach spatially, culturally, and socially through the use of digital technology to educate children and young adults about renewable energy and fight against climate change. In November 2021, the company launched its first virtual reality (VR) project, Sonnedix SolQuest.
This virtual journey takes the users to the Atacama Desert in Chile, where Sonnedix has its largest operating plant to date: the 170 MW Sonnedix Atacama Solar. Users can interact with the plant and complete activities to collect tokens. Once all tokens are collected, users can complete the quest by turning on the switch of the solar plant, delivering clean energy to the nearby communities, and making a positive impact!
This innovative and engaging initiative from the Sonnedix Sustainability Academy focuses on educating the problem solvers of tomorrow about solar energy through the experience of exploring a solar PV plant. The company also had the opportunity to present SolQuest at several museums in the US, Spain, and the UK.
“Our education and awareness-raising efforts go beyond the problem-solvers of tomorrow. Raising awareness amongst our Sonnedix’s colleagues on sustainability topics and ensuring that our senior management remains vigilant around ESG efforts, is and will continue to stay high on our agenda,” said Dijana.
About the Leaders:
Dijana Vlaisavljevic: Head of ESG
As Head of ESG for Sonnedix, Dijana oversees ESG performance on a corporate level and at the asset levels of the company with a focus on bringing improvement in sustainability performance across the business.
She has extensive experience working across a wide range of industry sectors, advising on ESG matters. Her expertise includes designing and implementing sustainability strategies, including net-zero commitments, sharing guidance on ESG-related risks and effective risk management, driving ESG performance across all operations, and implementing ESG reporting frameworks.
Valentina Piraino: Head of Strategic Transactions
Valentina is the Head of Strategic Transactions at Sonnedix dedicated to the execution of transformative acquisitions that drive Sonnedix’s growth. She, along with her team, works to identify potential targets (renewable energy opportunities) in the market, perform their valuation, and oversee the entire process until the acquisition is finalized.
Clement Descubes: VP STRATEGIC TRANSACTIONS
As the VP Strategic Transactions, Clement focuses on enhancing and expanding Sonnedix presence in France through the acquisition of high-quality projects in operation or under development. Responsible for the development and the execution of the acquisition strategy in France, he manages, in collaboration with teams from across the Sonnedix Group, all aspects of the transactions from project sourcing, to project management, commercial negotiations and post-closing activities.