Interview with the Chief Operating Officer (COO), Sebastian Bovensiepen
Sebastian Bovensiepen is working in the renewable energy sector since 1999. He started his career in the wind energy sector, as head of the legal department and member of the Management Board of a wind project development and financing company. During this time, the company managed to complete wind projects in a total capacity of 180 MW in Germany and afterwards developed with partners in Canada more than 500 MW of wind projects.
In 2014, he joined the meeco team and started to work as a consultant and expert for sales, development and acquisition of PV projects worldwide. In February 2015, Sebastian Bovensiepen was appointed Chief Operating Officer of The meeco Group.
You are connected with the renewable energy sector for more than 15 years. How do you see the development of renewables in the future?
I believe that the renewable energy sector will continue to develop strongly. The solar sector, in particular, will experience an accelerated increase, essentially because in countries all over the world, people are learning more about solar power and its advantages. These advantages are for instance the versatile application possibilities, the modular installation, the long life cycle of the components and of course the simple maintenance compared to other renewable energy sources such as wind power.
Solar plants have been installed worldwide from very small (wattage) installations to large installations in excess of 100 MWp. It is of paramount importance that companies, like The meeco Group, which have the necessary know-how and expertise to build up new markets, ensure that solar is introduced professionally.
At the same time, it is essential to support properly the new users of solar technology, in order to ensure that solar becomes a successful and trusted renewable energy source. This necessarily includes the correct sizing, engineering and construction of solar installations and the utilisation of tier one components.
How do you as Chief Operating Officer of The meeco Group contribute to the professional introduction of solar power – what are your main responsibilities and daily missions?
My main responsibility is to ensure that the different teams, which are concerned within the several phases of the project development, starting from the project acquisition to the development and finally closing, installation, commissioning and operation, work smoothly together. I need to make sure that information is promptly shared with the whole team and that my colleagues communicate directly, in order to ensure that all team members are informed about the status quo and also about any changes which might be required.
My daily mission is to provide support to the team towards those different steps but also to intervene in case we have to change the process because of unexpected circumstances, which is often part of the project development procedure.
What do you consider as the most exciting part of your job?
The most exciting part is to manage and follow up a project from day one, from the development and the construction phase to the commissioning and operational stage. Moreover, it is especially rewarding to be part of a team that has the capability and the know-how to cover the whole process of developing from the idea all the way to the actual building of solar power plants – and this, all over the world, no matter if it is roof- or ground-mounted, a small or large scale project.
I particularly enjoy my work because project development is so versatile. There is no day like the other and each of them provides a good portion of surprise and new insights. Following the development of a project, from the scratch to the installation of PV power plants, which then start to operate and to generate green energy, is what describes my professional impetus the best.
The role of the COO can be highly contingent and situational and thus can vary dramatically from company to company. How would you define yours at meeco?
I think that the role of a COO depends actually on the project development itself, which is in fact a very contingent and situational business. Independently from the company, the challenge is to react appropriately and swiftly. This requires an experienced team and of course, a fast decision making process. This is one of the reasons why I really enjoy working for meeco, since the internal procedures are extremely fast, which explains the successful results in the management of different projects.
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So far, which experience at meeco do you concede to be the most challenging of your career?
To take over the project development in Africa was a real challenge, because my experience was until then limited to Europe, the US, Canada and Taiwan. I had never been in Africa before, but this turned out to be one of the most positive business experiences I ever had.
In fact, the local partners, the authorities and the politicians we have dealt with have been outstandingly supportive, leading us to a quick and successful project development. I am impressed to see how fast everybody understood the great potential of PV energy for the whole African continent and its people.
Are there any business models that bear the potential to become a major trend?
The business model of building and operating solar plants and then selling the energy to consumers, for their own benefit, is of special importance. Installed on the premises of the consumer ,e.g. their roofs, these types of installations have been carried out very successfully and are known as “shave-off solutions”. These are solutions where the generated solar energy will significantly reduce the consumption of fossil fuels be it in the form of electricity from the grid or diesel generated energy. This could as well be achieved by using solar plants as hybrid solutions in combination with a diesel power generation. This model is very successful in countries where power cuts and load shedding occur frequently and the use of a diesel generator is mandatory in order to ensure a constant supply of energy. meeco has chosen a long and challenging road, namely to introduce and install solar where it is needed and to bring green and affordable energy everywhere. We strive towards the achievement of this goal every day – with passion.
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