EnergyVision combines sustainability and social commitment
In barely nine years, EnergyVision has grown from a start-up to a company with a turnover of 117 million euros and 225 employees. CEO Maarten Michielssens is still wedded to the basic idea, namely making renewable energy available to the widest possible public.
With start-up capital of 6 200 euros and a 25 square-metre office with no furniture, Maarten Michielssens and a few friends embarked on their mission in 2014: to democratise the solar panel sector. ‘At first, we only operated in China and Morocco, because the market in Belgium had completely stalled after years of over-subsidisation. But gradually we repatriated our profits and also built up the Belgian narrative. We continue to grow everywhere, but the biggest potential is still at home.’
Acceleration of growth during the energy crisis
EnergyVision invests in roof-mounted solar panels on structures such as apartment buildings, offices and football stadiums, and sells the green power generated at an agreed tariff. ‘Our formula is simple: we remove barriers and make renewable energy accessible to organisations and people who can’t or don’t want to invest themselves. We bear the risk and sell kilowatt hours to them.’
Through its subsidiary Brusol, since 2018 the company has grown into one of the largest suppliers of solar panels in the Brussels Capital Region, thanks to green certificates. The ambition is to grow rapidly to a turnover of 200 million euros, and in the subsequent phase, perhaps to reach the billion euro mark. Michielssens explains: ‘We have a model that appeals to people. During the energy crisis, our growth accelerated, as some companies no longer wanted to bear the cost of investment. We decided to freeze our power price so as not to cause problems for our customers.’
We froze our power price during the energy crisis so as not to cause problems for our customers.
Maarten Michielssens - CEO EnergyVision
The same vision has since been extended into charging infrastructure. ‘The issues there are similar: installing charging stations is not part of the core business of SMEs. So we install free charging plazas and sell the power to recoup our investment,’ the CEO explains. ‘For us, it’s the start of a decentralised energy grid, matching our production units to consumption. That enables us to facilitate both the energy transition and the transition to more sustainable mobility.’
Wanted: flexible financing solutions
EnergyVision's capital-intensive business requires strong financial partners. ‘We are an atypical company, combining rapid growth with several technologies, market segments and business models. That requires a lot of flexibility from our banks because we are constantly evolving and developing new needs,’ says Maarten Michielssens. ‘KBC Commercial Banking has been a solid partner for several years, with short lines of communication and quick solutions that we appreciate.’
Relationship Manager Miet Danckaert stresses that the bank looks at every request with an open mind and always works out tailor-made solutions: ‘KBC Commercial Banking has a wide range of financing options. We work with the client to look for the right solution to their financing needs. For EnergyVision, we combined a mix of solutions to strengthen their working capital. Projects in China require a different form of financing than projects in Belgium. Thanks to KBC's international network, we can also provide local solutions in China, for example through our Shanghai office. We are also happy to do what we can to support the sustainable growth of a strong company in a forward-looking sector.’