This post presents an interview with Founder and CEO of Enian, Phillip Bruner. We discussed Enian’s plans for 2018. Key points include renewable energy sources and the challenges ahead.
What was it that pushed you to create Enian as a company in the first place, and go into the energy sector?
So we started the business having felt the pain of being a project developer working on smaller projects. Smaller projects are where renewable energy wants to live, but they don’t scale because there is no financing available for smaller deals and project developers don’t have big balance sheets. So even though smaller areas are where renewable energy wants to live, smaller renewable energy projects don’t get the funding they need in comparison to larger projects. For example, when you walk round the city, you see vacant roof space, apartment buildings, government buildings, schools, hospitals, warehouses, storage facilities, where there would be solar panels, and there aren’t. But that’s the future, the future is that the city will be green, the countryside will be green, and for that to work, we need to find a future level of financial help that will fit the scale.
How do you feel Enian are currently doing within the industry, and what important milestones have you met so far?
Enian is doing really well, we finished building the project in November. We raised about £180,00 in the last year, from private investors. We also won a £200,000 award from Innovate UK. The Innovate UK project is working with the University of Edinburgh to adapt a machine-learning framework to our platform, so we’re really excited about those things. We plan to launch the products June this year.
Describe in your own words what Enian offers to the energy industry. What do you believe is the main product?
The main product is a deal tech platform - this is a fancy way of saying a way of digitally organising data and executing contracts. It’s basically a way for investors to more rapidly identify and invest in renewable energy projects at scale, particularly in emerging markets where there is a lack of visibility and standardisation.
Now I understand Enian have quite a close working relationship with Tilix, and in particular, Dr. Neil Williams.
Neil is one of our angel investors, I was introduced to Neil through some of our mutual contacts in the GB energy market. He is also providing some technical advisory on the product which is an area which he has a lot of experience. We are very happy to be working with him and we look forward to working with Tilix on getting the product launched.
What are you plans to launch the product?
We’re going to launch in operation with Tilix, and invite over 1,000 developers to London to participate in a half day event which will address issues related specifically to the commercial renewable energy sector.
What are your other targets for the year?
We currently have 10 project companies on the platform, and we are looking for 10 more. Once we have a critical mass of project companies, we will launch the platform in co-operation with a group of financial partners who have committed to backing their projects. Our aim is to deploy 250 million USD by 2020. We are currently in negotiation with a group of financial DFI’s to provide a structure loan facility which will operate at below the threshold of mainstream banks.
What do you believe are the biggest challenges that Enian will have to overcome in the near future?
Our biggest challenge is that we are a market place and every market place has two sides - supply and demand. So it’s tricky to find the right balance between demand for capital and capital supply. But we are getting closer. And the great thing is that there seems to be no end to the growth of the market and the commercial range that we are targeting for solar PV and wind technologies.
Which renewable energy source do you believe is the most efficient, and which ones do you think we should be keeping our eye on for the future?
I love tidal energy, even though it’s a long way from being commercially viable. But there’s a lot of potential there. For us, the wind market is the easiest, it has the most beneficial economics compared to more conventional fuels. Wind power scales and solar is not far behind, and we are watching the energy storage market very closely, but we are yet to see a commercial pro forma contract which can capture the revenue streams from commercial installation. The energy storage market is begging for something like a power purchase agreement (PPA). Maybe some very clever PhD student will come up with the solution.
Lastly, what would your advice be to new renewable energy companies entering today’s market?
For smaller companies, don’t be too protective of equity. Equity is your most powerful bargaining tool and you should use it. There are investors out there who will back project teams who are willing to sell equity to a project before its built. And a lot of those investors have preferred EPC partners, who they work with once a project is at construction phase. So project developers have the flexibility to exit a project earlier and benefit financially rather than taking on construction risk, which has potentially negative consequences.
Enian is a high value asset manager and transaction enabler for commercial renewable energy deals. Their deal platform accelerates the deal lifecycle, delivering significant time and cost savings for renewable energy investment and development teams around the world.. Find out more at the Enian website