Ana Maria Fernandes | Chief Executive Officer
Ana, can you walk us throughout 2011 – what were the highlights and what didn’t go according to plan?
We started the year strongly committed to our strategy which has resulted in increased shareholder value for 2011. On growth, we installed more than 800 MW. On profitability, we selected the best projects with an above average remuneration and quality load factors. And, we were able to improve our risk profile by increasing to 90% the assets under stable regulatory regimes and long-term contracts.
In more detail I would like to highlight the following three achievements that marked EDPR in 2011.
Firstly, the company continued to expand geographically and find new market opportunities that are attractive for our shareholders. As an example, we have clearly established ourselves as a long-term player in the Brazilian wind market and are today clear market leaders in Romania and Poland, regions strongly committed to develop wind energy.
Secondly, EDPR was able to secure more than 700 million euros through alternative funding sources at competitive rates, like the project finances with multilaterals in Portugal, Brazil and Romania, or the funding through institutional partnerships in the US. Amidst the current turmoil in the financial markets this was a big success and a clear demonstration of the quality of the projects executed by our teams.
Thirdly, we keep looking ahead, to our future and planning our long-term growth options. This year we were able to expand our offshore wind projects under development in the UK up to 2.4 GW through a partnership with a first class company in the energy sector. A clear commitment to innovation and technological diversification.
I have to say that we also faced challenges and setbacks. Regulatory uncertainty for future investments in some of the main renewable markets, as the US and Spain, has clouded our visibility and is putting our growth rates into question. To face this, the company will clearly keep working throughout 2012 to find alternative attractive growth solutions that would be valuable to our shareholders.
How has EDPR performed in 2011?
In 2011 we accomplished our capacity growth targets by delivering 806 MW, increased our electricity production by 17% to 16.8 TWh and generated a record 1 billion euros in revenues.
We continue to demonstrate the qualitative attributes of our portfolio and geographical diversification. We have top-class projects delivering superior load factors. Once again the average load factor of our wind farms reached the 29% mark, a clear signal of our recurrent excellence on this indicator.
On the pricing side, our low risk strategy continues to bear its fruits, resulting in price stability on the back of a 90% exposure to stable regulations and long-term contracts. This year we kept improving our risk profile by signing more PPAs for 146 MW and by installing 608 MW in regulated markets.
The results are clearly good. EBITDA went up 12% in 2011 while cash-flow from operations reached 643 million euros, representing a 13% increase in comparison with previous year.
We also continue to present a strong balance sheet discipline. 92% of our Financial Debt is at fixed rates and approximately 80% of it only matures post-2018, reflecting that long-term funding agreements closed by the company during the last years.
Such performance is a credit to the commitment, focus and hard work of all our employees.
Is EDPR set to deliver long-term sustainable growth?
I think it is fair to say that the company is very well equipped to exploit the opportunities and master the challenges of the future. We have strong core competences in developing and operating wind farms, we exceed our peers and our partners recognize it.
Over the last four years the company did a remarkable job by installing more than 4.5 GW and increasing the installed capacity to the 7.5 GW that we have today. We will keep on adapting our growth in response to the changes to the business environment, and will keep applying our successful formula based on our robust portfolio of options under development giving us optionality on future investments, a continuous quest to find valuable opportunities in new markets and a constant analysis of a wide range of early-stage renewable technologies as a way to move forward.
Our knowledge, experience and competences are the key for us to keep on delivering sustainable growth.
What can EDPR stakeholders expect from the Company in 2012?
As we begin our journey in 2012, I truly believe EDPR will keep on delivering on its three strategic pillars. We are adding more capacity to our installed base, having selected the projects with superior quality and exposed to stable remuneration frameworks. We are pursuing a selective growth. We want the right combination between superior returns and risk control. Our asset base in our mature markets along with the recent and future investments in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in Brazil are expected to produce interesting results in 2012.
Also during this year we expect to revise our medium-term strategic plan and present it to our stakeholders, in light of the recently established partnership for renewable generation projects between EDP, our principal shareholder, and China Three Gorges, China’s biggest clean energy group.
Exciting times lie ahead.
How are EDPR employees prepared to embrace the new opportunities ahead of them?
I have the greatest confidence in all of the EDPR team around the world. They are young and dynamic professionals with a significant track record, which has been fully demonstrated by EDPR`s growth over the last years. The accumulated experience and continuous training and education programs serve to ensure that the team is ready to make the best use of the opportunities that lie ahead.
How has the new EDP Group brand/logo helped EdPR in its business development?
The new Group brand identity is very compelling and transmits EDP Group’s values with an intensity we did not have before. As a consequence, EDPR is now visually much more integrated with the EDP Group. Additionally, the new multi-faceted brand toolbox allows us to transmit the most appropriate values for every circumstance. All of this has been and will continue to be of great use in our business going forward.
In 2011, how did the general population, clients and legislators perceive renewable energies change?
I think that the concept of sustainable, renewable energy is almost universally accepted and supported among all audiences. This sentiment did not decreased during 2011. However, in times of crisis, the subsidy model for renewable energies is subject to more critical headlines. Societies have to decide regarding the investment for a sustainable future.
How do you feel about leaving a Company you have been involved with since the beginning and which you have seen evolve from an Iberian to a Global Company?
Change is always positive and globalization is an integral part of how business will be done in the future. All of us, the company and our professionals, have evolved and matured together. The foundation of EDPR, the IPO in 2008 and our expansion into international markets were successful landmarks for us all. I have confidence in the team and I remain assured that I leave behind a legacy to be proud of.
And finally, can you comment on the transfer of leadership to João Manso Neto: how do you think he will fit into the next phase in EdPR’s development?
I have known and admired João for years as a most capable colleague within the EDP Group. His extensive experience of the Group and his previous fifteen year’ career in global finance make him the ideal candidate to lead EDPR through the challenges and opportunities ahead.