Swiss-based European energy company MET Group has recently acquired a 100% stake in a 42-megawatt wind park in Bulgaria, as part of its growth strategy to develop a significant renewable portfolio in the CEE region. However, MET’s core competence remains natural gas, having traded 50 billion cubic meters (BCM) or around 10% of total European consumption in 2019.
Yet this competence in natural gas allows MET to better lead the energy transition from a fossil-based towards a zero-carbon world. For this reason, growing renewable power generation is a key part of MET’s business strategy. According to Johannes Niemetz, CFO of MET Group, “renewable energy production has become a must for the global transition of energy markets. Our competence in natural gas and gas-based power production reassures us that gas as a transition fuel balanced by renewable production will be a prevailing business model in the mid-term future.”
In addition, balancing has become an important topic everywhere in Europe, as the increasing amount of renewable energy being installed into the grid makes matching the supply and demand of energy more difficult. Different technologies, such as battery technologies, CHP (combined heat and power) or CCGT (combined cycle gas turbine) plants may help to balance the grid as flexible, peak balancing solutions. But traditional fuels remain important for grid balancing. “We do not have too many options: coal is already being phased out, nuclear is a remaining option only in a few countries,” adds Johannes Niemetz.
MET Group’s strategy is to become a truly integrated energy company. “We are growing our sales portfolio in several countries around gas and power, the company already has a balancing capability in certain markets, and we strongly believe in assets supporting this energy transition and grid balancing,” says the CFO.
Assets are an essential part of this integrated strategy across gas, power and renewables. To support power generation and the balancing of the grid, MET is exploring Western European countries for market entry to back its sales portfolios, as well as stand-alone propositions in certain markets. “Apart from renewables, our core growth in assets will be outside the CEE region, primarily in Italy, Spain, and the newly entered German market,” explains the Group CFO.
MET Group is an integrated European energy company, headquartered in Switzerland, with activities in natural gas, power and oil markets. MET is present in 14 countries through subsidiaries, 25 national gas markets and 22 international trading hubs. In 2019, MET Group’s consolidated sales revenue amounted to EUR 11.7 billion, while the volume of natural gas traded was 50 BCM.
MET aims to increase its renewable portfolio to 500+ megawatts by 2023, primarily in Central and Eastern Europe and along the whole value chain (greenfield, final investment decision (FID) stage, and brownfield). Due to the presence of established players, there is less focus on Western Europe. “Given our regional and strategic focus, we add value in the CEE region mainly around onshore wind and solar,” confirms Johannes Niemetz. In addition to the acquired 42-megawatt wind park in Bulgaria, the 43 MW Kabai Solar Park (located in Hungary) started commercial operation in October 2020.
The Covid crisis has proved correct MET Group’s integrated model. Difficulties in the sales portfolios due to demand and price reductions were offset by gains on the trading floor. The company, headquartered in Zug Switzerland, has optimised around volatility and price differences – while at the same time has seen a solid performance on the asset side.