Market Switzerland segment
In the first half of 2017 Repower further strengthened its focus on sales and services. The company managed to acquire a number of new major customers and extend supply agreements with existing consumers. These included the Hotel Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Elektrizitätswerk Samedan, and the retail chain Aldi, which has chosen Repowerʼs generation plants for the green power it sells to household customers. The Sales unit also served as the hub between customers and service providers within Repower (in particular Trading) in the acquisition of numerous other contracts.
Business with guarantees of origin was also gratifying in the first half of 2017. Sales was able to acquire new counterparties for trading in guarantees of origin, including Elektrizitätswerke Thun, Energie Service Biel, the Genossenschaft Elektra Oberrohrdorf cooperative, Stadtwerke Grenchen, and consumers in Germany, for example Energiehandelsgesellschaft West (EHW) and Stadtwerke Pforzheim.
Last but not least, Repower moved forward with the expansion of the Plugʼn Roll electric vehicle charging network. Many hotels and commercial establishments across Graubünden and beyond already operate one or more charging points. So far Repower has installed more than 80 such stations, and almost 2,000 electric vehicle drivers have signed up on the Plugʼn Roll app.
Over the first half of the year the work of the Product Management unit, newly established at the beginning of 2017, included moving forward with Smartpower, a Repower solution encompassing an output-based tariff and the Smart Manager, a device for reading measurement data, managing consumers and generation equipment and visualising the energy budget in real time. By actively managing their electrical equipment, customers can influence and optimise their energy costs. The pilot phase with trial users was officially concluded in June, and Repower will now evaluate the findings with the aim of bringing the product to market in 2018.
As the previous year the trading business continued to be very volatile and challenging in the first half of 2017. Delivery prices of electricity ran high, especially in January and February, at levels comparable with the fourth quarter of 2016. The main drivers were once more the low availability of thermal generation assets in Central Europe and the challenging hydrological situation in the alpine region. Among other things this also created some good opportunities on the Swiss balancing energy market. The differential in prices between Switzerland and Italy, an important factor for Repower, remained relatively narrow, albeit at a higher level than the previous year. Under such heavy margin pressure Repower had to make the best possible use of opportunities in market access arising from the high degree of volatility – something it managed to do, especially in the first quarter.
Over the first six months Repower continued intensive efforts to drive its trading-related services business forward. It managed to land contracts from a number of different partners to market their energy and flexibility, including Canton Aargauʼs interest in the Ryburg-Schwörstadt power plant, the KEBAG waste incineration plant, and the share of the old Linth-Limmern power plant that falls to Canton Glarus. Naturally Repower also further intensified long-term service relationships, for example its work with the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), Energie Wasser Luzern (EWL) and Kantonales Elektrizitätswerk Nidwalden (EWN). Repowerʼs trading services also include customised energy delivery to large consumers, providing market information and access, balance group and portfolio management, and energy procurement and forecasting.
In the first semester Repower further stepped up development work in connection with the Energy Space web portal, which has already been made available to a number of partners and customers. The portal covers the most important market- and customer-specific information, providing partners with real-time data for analysis and billing purposes. This greatly simplifies data sharing and boosts transparency for partners.
In the first half of 2017 Repower invested around CHF 5.7 million in extending and renewing its grids. Added to this was CHF 4.5 million invested in grid maintenance, monitoring and operation. This ongoing investment enables Repower to assure security of supply and maintain a high level of grid stability.
In the first six months of the year the Grid unit continued work on various third-party contracts, as well as acquiring new business. This included grid extension work in the Lower Engadine, grid renovation in Zernez, extending existing switching stations and building new ones (in Zernez and Klosters-Serneus), and various jobs involving work on power lines on behalf of Swissgrid (in the Engadine). Last but not least, Repower has been commissioned by many local authorities to optimise their street lighting; these include Disentis and Schiers, where Repower has installed innovative LED lighting.
At the end of last year Repower got the Rhaetian Railway on board as its first customer for its innovative Asset Monitor offering. Asset Monitor bundles, digitises and visualises data from infrastructure assets, enabling more efficient maintenance and better investment planning. In the first six months Repower continued work to refine the tool.
A dry winter in 2016/17 hit generation figures in the first half of the current year. Thanks to optimum management of reservoirs, however, it was possible to compensate for the dry weather. Repowerʼs own hydropower generation was in line with the long-term average at 348 gigawatt hours.
At the completely rebuilt Morteratsch power plant near Pontresina, which went into successful operation at the end of 2016, final work on the plant and its surroundings is under way. The plant, which runs under the feed-in remuneration at cost (KEV) scheme, will be definitively completed in the course of this summer.
In the first six months of the year Repower continued to work on numerous contracts for third parties. The topping out ceremony at the Avegno substation, which the group is completely modernising on behalf of Swissgrid, took place in June. The asset will be completed in 2018. Repower also landed a number of new contracts for work on substations, switching stations and water catchments from customers including Swissgrid, Engadiner Kraftwerke, Provedimaint Electric Val Müstair and the Papierfabrik Landqart paper factory. In addition, as part of a longstanding partnership Repower is replacing two switching stations for the Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz to enhance security of supply for the Lyceum and the municipality of Zuoz.
The Chlus hydropower project in the Prättigau/Graubünden Rhine Valley fits perfectly with the federal governmentʼs Energy Strategy 2050 and its plans to expand hydroelectric power generation. For this reason Chlus has been rated as a project of national importance in terms of enhancing security of supply in Switzerland. Repower is at an advanced stage of planning. However, implementation of the project depends on pending decisions at the federal and cantonal level, as well as on the development of electricity prices.
In the first half of 2017 Repowerʼs Market Switzerland segment posted operating income (EBIT) of CHF –2 million (versus CHF 13 million in the first half of 2016).