Small Enterprise speaks to Gabor Eisenbart, the Founder of SunMoney Solar Group, and Zoltan Rendes, the Partner and CMO of SunMoney Solar Group, about how investors can make money through buying of usage rights into the company’s solar parks
Can you tell us about the community solar business model at SunMoney?
Eisenbart Gabor – SunMoney Solar Group currently runs the world’s largest community solar program through building and acquiring solar power plants and then selling the electricity generated to the utilities. The members of the program can buy usage rights in our solar parks by watt output and through the sale of electricity mentioned earlier, our clients are able to get their share of the revenues on a monthly basis.
We do not just build and acquire solar power plants we are also invested towards supporting and maintaining them. Our clients also have the option to become our business members if they wish to collaborate with us to sell our products and earn commissions and bonuses for the same.
What sort of investment is involved to start off?
Eisenbart Gabor – Typically, an interested individual investor can start investing with the community solar power program with as little as 150-200 euros. Our observation has been that people usually end up investing around 2,000 euros at least once they start and receive monthly payouts. We believe that like the real try out of the pudding is when you eat it, same is the case with investments in the renewable energy space.
One can become a member of our program from anywhere in the world. Renewable energy is largely considered to be a low-risk investment, but there are some technical risks that can be mitigated by insurance and warranties – the long-term feed-in tariff contracts that we have with the national utilities are guaranteed by the state and ensure most legal risks are taken care of.
What sort of traction have you seen for this business model in the MEA region?
Zoltan Rendes – We are headquartered in Dubai and feel that it is an ideal choice being the multi-cultural financial and economic hub that it is. Having said that, we do not yet have a large commercial presence in the MEA region, but we are actively taking steps towards changing that. We are now closely looking at identifying viable projects as well as potential local energy businesses to partner within the MENA region.
We want to work with local experts who share our strong values and understand that this is more than just for business. We are ambitious for our growth and want to work with enterprises in the region that can envision the potential of this and wish to work to make it a reality with us. We are also working on introducing our small, mid, and large investor product offerings to the investors in region.
We are looking for projects with long term feed in tariff at locations in this region, since the leadership and the government here is strongly motivating the private sector to drive the development of renewable energy sources through encouraging incentives and subsidies.
Do you offer such models in other markets? What has been the success rate?
Zoltan Rendes – SunMoney has a very strong presence in Europe and the Americas, as well as in Asia. We work hard to bring everyone across the globe the opportunity to be a part of the renewable energy revolution by making it possible to buy into this traditionally “big-money” space with smaller amounts of money and availing its financial benefits for up to 25 years.
Our model has turned out to be a great solution to help cover electricity costs from renewable sources for those who reside in big cities, condos, and apartments where they wish to install a household solar system on their roofs. Our clients can expect revenues coming in from the 1st month and can choose to do much more with it.
People have realized that we need a change, even more so after the uncertainties posed by the pandemic and the lessons learnt from it. These sentiments and learnings are driving the success of our models even more now. People are realizing that they can actually make money with this and the fact that it is more than just good business.
Are the earnings guaranteed? How can an investor verify the revenue being generated?
Eisenbart Gabor – Like I mentioned earlier, our clients start receiving payouts in just a month after choosing to invest with us. While nothing in the investment world is entirely guaranteed, it is a relatively low-risk one. There may be some limited risks posed by the foreign currency exchange rates, but those are not industry-specific, and the solar industry cannot be blamed for it.
Based on our historical financial data and analysis, returns are expected to be around 8% annually through the community solar power program and 10% through our SunMoney Summits offering with monthly payouts guaranteed for 25 long years. It is very easy for our investors to verify the revenue being generated through their investments.
We have our own IT systems for the accounts which are regularly updated on the units. It is quite simplified really, just like an online banking system – the client has an account that they can login to and check their earnings. There is an easy-to-use dashboard that allows clients to either withdraw money to their bank account or even buy more investments with the revenue.
We even have a mobile app for it, so that monitoring and transferring funds is made easy on the go for our investors. There is also a SunMoney MasterCard for our European investors that they can load their revenues to and use it like a normal debit card.
Where are the solar panels installed? Is it at the investor’s property or at pre-identified locations?
Eisenbart Gabor – Our solar panels are mainly installed in Hungary as the region currently has the most desirable business and financial conditions for us, including strong initiatives by the authorities that are constantly pushing for more renewable energy adoption. We may start something in the South American region if the conditions are feasible for us.
It is important to understand that it is not just about the number of sunny days a region receives, but also other factors that help us keep the returns viable as well. It does not make business sense for us to want to install in a place that may give lower returns to our investors – there are a lot of calculations that go behind choosing where to install these panels. Having said that, we would love to install solar power plants in the MEA region if the returns can pan out.
What are your business strategies for the next 6 months? New markets you want to enter into, new solutions and so on?
Zoltan Rendes – We are currently working to expand our product portfolio with large, professional, and institutional investor products and are also setting up a renewable energy investment fund for the expansion. We are also working with experts to set up innovative initiatives for producing and storing electricity. Our business strategy and plans for the rest of the year include planning an investment round wherein we are looking to raise money in the region and collaborate with professional partners to gain more reach in this part of the world.
This is very different and colourful region in terms of culture and regulations, and we want to work with a native expert to help us grow together. We are looking to shell out a portion of shares for local companies who see value in what we do to join hands with us. We are also looking at the new Nasdaq Dubai Growth market to release an IPO in the near future. We understand that local change-makers have the reach we need in the region, and we want to tap into that to grow in the region.
We want to work with a soft approach to gain reach in the Middle East and South Africa regions, local power can help as they have the market understanding and expertise for the same. We are looking to create a positive impact in this space in MEA, one sunny day at a time. Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. The content does not provide tax, legal, or investment advice or opinion regarding the suitability, value, or profitability of any particular security, portfolio, or investment strategy.