Clean energy provider UrbanVolt expects to return to profit within two years and is eyeing a future stock market listing, as it ploughs millions into industrial solar panels in Ireland.
The Dublin-based firm has secured a €36m loan from Swedish credit fund Proventus and its existing investors BVP, an Irish impact investment fund, and US-based Beach Point Capital, to fund an expansion of its solar power business which launched last year.
UrbanVolt installs LED lights and solar panels in large firms’ factories and warehouses, fronting the cost of the hardware and installation and then sharing the energy savings with its customers via long-term contracts.
It offers solar-generated electricity to firms at around 30pc less than traditional providers.
The €36m in debt funding, announced yesterday, includes a €30m asset-backed seven-year loan from Proventus, which UrbanVolt chief executive Kevin Maughan said showed the Irish renewables market is “a truly viable commercial enterprise”.
“This is truly a transformational deal in that it is bringing on board one of Europe’s largest credit funds to invest in the Irish solar market,” he said.
“There is no reason we should not be investing heavily ourselves.
“When you see huge foreign funds coming in and saying, ‘This market is ripe for investment and it makes sense to do it’, it’s sad that we’re not quite as behind it from an Irish Government perspective as we should be.”
Proventus Capital Partners was founded in 2002.
UrbanVolt was established in 2015 and branched into solar energy last year after raising €7m in equity funding from investors including the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) and former Green Reit co-founder Stephen Vernon.
It now has operations in Ireland, UK, the US and eight European markets, and counts brewing company Heineken and pharmaceutical company Pfizer among its clients.
UrbanVolt finances the entire cost of buying and installing the solar panels and the new loan facility is expected to pave the way for around 200 solar projects in Ireland in the next 18 months.
It has already signed up 70 customers, and is in late-stage talks with 95.
Discussions are being held with a total of around 450, Mr Maughan said.
He said that scale allows the firm to “sit at the top of the preference ladder” for electrical and roofing contractors, where there is a shortage of labour.
The firm recorded a profit in 2020, but will “return to unprofitability briefly for the next two years” before revenues from its solar panel investment come through.
An initial public offering (IPO) is “on the cards” in the future, Mr Maughan said.
“We’re an ambitious company. From day one we have built the business to operate at scale.
“Going for an IPO would not be the usual leap that it would be for most companies, in terms of how they would have to, I suppose, fix the books and clean everything up.
“We’re ahead of the game, in that perspective, compared to most people because it was one of our founding ambitious.
“So, yeah, that’s still on the cards. It is something we will be looking to in the future.”