Q. You’ve held numerous leadership roles across the German energy industry over the last 25 years, what motivated you to co-found NeXtWind?
It’s precisely because the co-founders have such a depth of experience across energy and green finance that we could see this challenge coming around the corner. And we’re the kind of people that get excited by new challenges!
Having pioneered wind power in Europe, Germany’s earliest assets are approaching end-of-life and, in the context of climate change and the race to Net Zero, we simply cannot afford to lose these sites.
Collectively, we decided we had the skills, experience and network to do something about it. And so we are!
Q. You’ve moved at breakneck speed ever since! Tell us about the progress made to date?
Well, we’re about to celebrate our first year of full operation and you’re right, it feels like ten!
We’re delighted to have hit the ground running in our home market. It’s what was needed and speaks to the skills and industry connections our team brought to the table.
We set out with significant backing from significant investors and have been quick to identify and negotiate the first suite of sites to invest in. Our work at these sites is pioneering the way ahead, with a number of firsts safely behind us, including PPAs and strategic partnerships.
The fact that we’re already talking to existing and new investment partners about further fundraising is testament to our early successes.
Q. Looking at that home market of Germany, 2022 brings some huge renewable energy deployment targets to chase down. Where do end-of-life strategies fit in?
Quite simply, you’re not going to get there without the widespread embrace of a sophisticated and professional approach to end-of-life assets.
We’re looking at some 15GW of German wind in need of rejuvenation. Germany has reached the crossroads: it can become 0GW or, with the right approach, 30GW of the next generation’s low carbon capacity.
Q. You’re targeting a 1GW portfolio within 5 years, clearly you’re not going to get there in Germany alone?
What we’re doing is proving in our home market the mechanisms required. These are mechanisms for a new challenge that Germany is facing now, and all markets across Europe will face soon enough.
We will track the spread of this opportunity across Europe: to the UK, to Ireland, across central European nations, the Nordics, and beyond.
And we’ll take with us the vital learning established in Germany. Indeed, we’re already looking at some international sites in the pipeline now.
Q. Do you envisage a 1GW portfolio of wind assets exclusively?
There’s a huge challenge and opportunity in onshore wind right now. But longer term we’re looking at all end-of-life renewable assets and the chance to not only sustain their contribution but to give them a whole new lease of life.
This starts with onshore wind but may then expand to include hydrogen production or onsite storage, or diversify into other generating technologies such as solar and offshore wind.
The possibilities and potential for the end-of-life asset class are considerable, so long as you have a clear understanding of how to approach site redevelopment and rejuvenation in today’s complex and volatile market.