SunMoney Solar Group is primarily in the business of building and acquiring solar power plants. Shereen Shabnam gets insights about the company from Gabor Eisenbart, Founder of SunMoney Solar Group (GE) and Zoltan Rendes (ZR), Partner and CMO SunMoney Solar group.
1.Give us an overview on SunMoney and its core business in this region
GE: We are running the largest community solar program in the world by enabling private and individual investors to invest and earn through the sale of electricity generated through our plants to the utilities. Investors buy usage rights in our solar parks by watt output and are able to get their share of the returns on a monthly basis. Alongside building and acquiring solar power plants, SunMoney is continually invested in supporting and maintaining them.
2. What exactly is the community solar business model of SunMoney?
ZR: The community solar business model of SunMoney allows small and private investors to invest in solar power as it allows for a lucrative mix of income, growth and sustainability while saving electricity. Interested parties can become a member of SunMoney’s program from anywhere in the world. One can start investing with the community solar power program with 150-200 euros to begin with. Members usually end up investing around 2,000 euros once they start receiving monthly payouts. Members of the community solar power program even have the option to get more involved in our growth story by collaborating with us to sell our products and earn commissions and bonuses for the same.
3. Where are SunMoney’s solar power plants located and why?
GE: SunMoney’s solar panels are primarily located in Hungary as the region currently offers the most preferrable business and financial conditions for the company. Strong initiatives taken by the government in the region to constantly push for increased renewable energy adoption is a positive factor for us. The decision to set up a solar power plant is cannot just be based on the number of sunny days a region receives. We also need to consider other factors that can help us keep the returns viable for our investors as well. Government subsidies and tax incentives can play an instrumental role in making this decision. Choosing where to install these panels is backed by a lot of calculations.
4. How successful has this future aware community investment model been in the Middle East?
ZR: Being headquartered in Dubai has been an ideal choice considering the multi-cultural financial and economic hub that it is. We aim to provide everyone across the Middle East and the globe with the opportunity to be a part of the renewable energy revolution. By making it possible to buy into this traditionally capital-intensive space with smaller amounts of money, our future aware community investment model enables investors to reap financial benefits for up to 25 years. SunMoney’s community solar power program’s model has been incredibly effective in helping cover electricity costs from renewable sources for those who wish to install private solar panels. We are trying to increase our presence in the Middle East to help private investors reap returns while contributing towards saving the planet.
5. How can an investor monitor and withdraw or use the returns generated from the community solar power program?
GE: Our investors can easily verify the revenue being generated from their investments with our community solar power program. SunMoney has its own IT systems for the accounts, and they are regularly updated on the units. It works just like an online banking system where the investor has an account that they need to login to for checking their earnings. This easy-to-use dashboard allows members to either withdraw money to their bank accounts or buy more investments with it. We also have a mobile app for monitoring and transferring funds on the go for our members. For our European investors, we also have a SunMoney MasterCard to which they can load their revenues and use it like a debit card.
6. How has the pandemic affected the renewable energy space and SunMoney? What are some of the challenges you have overcome in the past year?
ZR: As with other industries, the renewable energy space has also experienced a series of challenges that were brought on by the pandemic. An unfortunate number of clean energy workers have suffered job losses during the pandemic, especially in the US. Due to a shortage of workforce, many green projects across renewable energy industry sectors have been delayed indefinitely, bringing solar power projects to a crawl. The pandemic caused an increased number of projects to sit incomplete for an indefinite period of time, making it difficult for some sectors to meet their contractual and financial obligations for those projects.
7. Are you looking to expand your footprint in the region or are you exploring other markets?
GE: Our presence in the MEA region is not very large yet and we are taking active initiatives to change that. We are on a lookout for viable projects and potential local energy businesses to partner within the MENA region. We are in the process of introducing our small, mid, and large investor product offerings to investors in the MEA region. The leadership and the government here is motivating the private sector to boost the development of renewable energy sources with incentives and subsidies and SunMoney is looking for projects with long term feed in tariff at locations in the Middle East. We want to work with local experts who understand our work and share our values. We are searching for enterprises that can envision the potential of this and wish to work hard to make it a reality with us.
8. What are SunMoney’s plans for the next year?
ZR: SunMoney is currently expanding its product portfolio with large, professional, and institutional investor products. We are in the process of setting up a renewable energy investment fund for the said expansion. We are working closely with experts to develop innovative initiatives for producing and storing electricity. Our business strategy and plans for next year include raising capital in the region through an investment round and collaborating with professional partners to gain more reach in the Middle East. MEA is a vibrant region in terms of culture and regulations, and SunMoney wants to partner with a native expert to achieve collective growth. We understand that local change-makers are vital to growth in this region, and we want to tap into the reach they have. We will be shelling out a portion of shares for like-minded local companies to join hands with us.