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There are some 50 direct marketers in Germany. “In terms of scale, we are among the top ten,” says Alexander Grundmann, Renewable Energy Manager at Alpiq. In 2018, he became one of the first employees of Alpiq Energie Deutschland GmbH to help set up the business. “Today, we are primarily active in peripheral regions, where the large suppliers aren’t so dominant, such as in southern Bavaria or in north-eastern Germany,” he explains.
According to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), operators of wind farms and photovoltaic systems in Germany are eligible for subsidies for the first 20 years of operation. Since the act came into force in 2000, it was in 2021 that the first plants ceased to be eligible for subsidies. Alpiq markets generation facilities, regardless of whether they still qualify for subsidies or not. We offer the operators fixed-price models and indexed models, depending on their needs and their risk profile. We sell the electricity either on the relevant exchanges in 24/7 trading, directly to the consumers or we market it regionally. We offer a very diverse range of contract models that can also cover a variety of services or supplementary products.
When he was setting up the direct marketing business, proximity to the customers was a crucial factor. “We wanted to find out what we can gain from customer relationships,” Alex explains. Before reaching out to new customers, he generally looks for suitable stories. He is convinced that good stories open doors and form the basis for fruitful customer relationships. There are many good stories to tell about Alpiq. For example about hydropower, which many operators in Germany can identify with. What is more, we have a broad base, a long history and a robust core business. To Alex it is important to gain an in-depth understanding of the customers’ needs and concerns. This is why he travels a lot and gradually builds up a relationship of trust with the customers. Mutual trust between the key accounts on both sides is indispensable for the signing of an agreement, he emphasises.
The market in which Alex operates is very diverse. “We do business with farmers and small production units as well as with investors who have virtually unlimited financial resources,” Alex explains. Working with his colleagues within Alpiq is also an exciting aspect, he adds. Direct marketing only works when all the gears interlock smoothly. From acquisitions to day-ahead and intraday trading and from analyses and forecasts right through to the development of software for suitable dashboards.
Even when a wind farm or photovoltaic plant has ceased to be eligible for government subsidies, we offer contracts to keep them running. “Keeping them in operation requires far more intensive consulting, because the marketing is more complex and the risks are higher,” Alex explains. In contrast to direct marketing on the day-ahead and intraday markets, continued operation is where long-term trading comes into play.
Last autumn, Alex experienced just how important innovations are on the market. In response to the sharp rise in electricity prices, he worked together with other specialists and came up with a new product in just two weeks. A hybrid between PPA and direct marketing, which they called “Short PPA”. A short-term product tailored to meet the exceptional circumstances. In this way, they flexibly responded to market developments and devised precisely the solution that our customers needed to deal with the high market volatility.