Sunly’s co-founder and CEO Priit Lepasepp: “Even when the economy is moving towards more difficult times, it is still important to invest in growth and innovation”

Sunly has published our Annual Report for 2023. In addition to our financial year highlights you can find there an interview with Sunly’s CEO and co-founder Priit Lepasepp. Sunly’s Annual report is available for reading here

Priit, how would you sum up 2023?  

2023 was a year of preparations for what will come next. We focused on building teams with the right competencies for growth, as a result of which our organization grew from 153 to 297 people. It was important for us to not only fill positions but also make sure that we share the same vision and can work together effectively. Therefore, I am delighted that we have been able to attract talented people who are passionate about renewable energy and believe their actions can move mountains.​ One of Sunly’s core principles from the beginning has been to build solar and wind parks together with communities. We want to bring life back to rural areas by giving them a voice.

In 2023,  Sunly and KOOS.io launched a new community engagement program with a pilot project for the Herro wind park in Valgamaa, Estonia. Community members are offered virtual shares in the wind park in exchange for their participation and input.​ The virtual shares can be converted into cash​ at different points in time, enabling their holders to decide whether to exercise them immediately or hold the shares throughout the wind park’s operation.   ​

How has the development portfolio grown during the year?  ​

In 2023, we were able to triple our operational capacity: from 53 MW to 164 MW.​ At the same time, our total portfolio was not only growing from 23.4 GW to 26.0 GW but also substantially maturing. The part of our portfolio with positive answers to the applications for grid connection conditions grew from 2.4 GW​ to 6.8 GW.​ This reflects a shift in Sunly’s focus from overall growth to the maturing of near- and medium-term pipeline. We believe it is critical to capitalize on the current market prices and the momentum for renewables build-out. This is also why we have been recruiting talent to support the execution​ of the pipeline.​

Industry forecasts suggest that within the next three years, the installed renewables capacity in our region is expected to double.​ By 2030, we plan to build solar parks and wind power plants with battery storage facilities in Poland and the Baltics with a total capacity​ of 4.6 GW.​

What are Sunly’s goals for the coming years?  ​

I would highlight two things. First, we are going to focus more on wind parks, starting from the Baltics where we are soon expecting to have our first wind projects in a ready-to-build state.​ Secondly, what differentiates Sunly from others is our thirst for innovation. In the future, we want to add energy storage opportunities to all our parks. We have already set some great examples with hybrid solar parks like Pikkori 2 MW, opened in 2023, but this is just the beginning.​

We also recognize that innovation in energy markets has not stopped. In many ways, the underlying energy system has not changed since the 1960s. The Baltics are only now finally getting ready to desynchronize from the Russian electricity grid, which is expected to happen in early 2025.​

Now, the rapid deployment of renewable energy will add another layer of change.​ This creates problems, but also opportunities that startups can seize and build solutions for. Even when the economy is moving towards more difficult times, it is still important to invest in growth and innovation. Sunly is investing 5% of the raised capital in new startups. Today, we are raising our 3rd startup investment vehicle, a EUR 50m fund, to further our commitment to cleantech innovation.​ We want to be as close as possible to the​ next unicorns that will come from the cleantech sector.