Sorgenia represents 2.7% of Italian energy capacity, supplying more than 400,000 businesses and households with gas and renewable energy. But it is its innovative consumer-centric approach that will help this integrated player to succeed in the energy transition. The sector’s centralised business model built around conventional generation is coming to an end, and a new distributed business model is emerging, made up of small renewable assets connected by smart grids and smart data management.
The change is driven on a European-level by the EU’s 2019 Clean Energy for All Europeans package, which among other initiatives regulates and encourages the establishment of renewable energy communities (RECs). In a REC, consumers participate in a sharing economy, generating and distributing energy locally through an interconnected digital platform. “We are enabling these communities in a number of areas in Italy, and we will see this model grow dramatically throughout Europe,” says Sorgenia’s CEO Gianfilippo Mancini. “Engaging with these ‘prosumers’ [people who both produce and consume] is essential to the shift from a centralised model to a distributed model made up of consumers, information and data.” However, ‘prosuming’ will not become mainstream until more digital technologies and distributed energy management activities are embedded in the retail market. “These market developments lower the value of the commodity and increase the value of new services around that commodity,” says Mancini.
Connect with the Greeners
To participate in this growing market, Sorgenia set out to develop a strong data-centric and customer-centric culture. “We are seeing a dramatic and accelerated shift towards digital channels among our customers,” says Mancini. “They want a more direct relationship with their suppliers.” This led Sorgenia to launch its MySorgenia app, which helps it to engage directly with a new and rapidly growing community of environmentally active customers.
“We have a new generation of responsible and engaged customers,” says Mancini. “We call them the Greeners, and they now represent 20% of our customer base. They are empowered by our services, such as renewable microgeneration and digital solutions built around sustainability.”
Through the app and Sorgenia’s website, there is a full digital path for the supply of green energy and fibre to homes, and for the provisioning and supply of rooftop photovoltaic panels, heat pumps and other smart appliances. The app allows customers to control their household consumption and bills, and includes a measurement of their carbon footprint. A loyalty programme then rewards proactive customers with gift vouchers for environmentally friendly consumption habits and for choosing renewable energy sources.
Finance the future
Expanding its portfolio of renewable generation is also central to Sorgenia’s energy transition strategy. In 2019, its shareholders accepted an offer for its acquisition and refinancing by investment manager Asterion Industrial Partners and infrastructure fund manager F2i, underpinned by ING’s allocation of €100m as Original Lender for the syndicated acquisition. The transaction added nearly 300MW of wind and 70MW of biomass capacity to Sorgenia’s 4.4GW gas-fired generation portfolio, and will further strengthen the retail offering to address the changing market environment. “ING was honored to provide F2i and Asterion with its expertise in the energy sector, supporting the investment in Sorgenia – a strategic and innovative player in a fast changing market,” says Valerio Capizzi, ING’s head of energy for EMEA. “Our mission is to make the energy transition possible and, in this respect, Sorgenia was identified as a changemaker whose strategy matches our commitment to creating a greener and more sustainable society.”