Anita Horváth appointed co-head of the Europe energy group

We are delighted to announce the appointment of partner Anita Horváth as co-head of the Europe energy group. Serving alongside fellow co-head, Arek Krasnodębski, she will focus on further developing our transactional work within the energy sector.

Anita is among the premier lawyers advising on complex domestic and cross-border M&A, joint ventures and private equity transactions in Hungary and the region, due to her excellent international reputation, clients increasingly call on her to lead multijurisdictional transactions. In addition to her regional appointment, Anita has also recently been named co-head of our Corporate and M&A practice in Hungary, alongside Rob Irving.

We congratulate Anita on her appointment, and wish her continued success in her new roles.

About Dentons

Dentons is the world’s largest law firm, delivering quality and value to clients around the globe. Dentons is a leader on the Acritas Global Elite Brand Index, a BTI Client Service 30 Award winner and recognised by prominent business and legal publications for its innovations in client service, including founding Nextlaw Enterprise, Dentons’ wholly owned subsidiary of innovation, advisory and technology operating units. Dentons’ polycentric approach, commitment to inclusion and diversity and world-class talent challenge the status quo to advance client interests in the communities in which we live and work.

Pinsent Masons advises Flogas Ireland on latest acquisition

Multinational law firm Pinsent Masons has advised Flogas Ireland, a subsidiary of DCC plc, on its entry into Northern Ireland with the acquisition of Budget Energy.

It marks the largest investment that Flogas has made in Ireland into the growth of its energy business and will enable its expansion into the residential and commercial electricity market in Northern Ireland where it has been operating for over 30 years in the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and more recently, the commercial natural gas market.

Budget Energy is one of Northern Ireland’s leading electricity suppliers. In recent years it has contracted with a strong portfolio of local renewable energy generation across solar, wind and anaerobic digestion sources. This renewable generation will be a key contributor to Flogas’s sustainability strategy. Budget Energy, which trades as BE Energy in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) has over 90,000 customers.

Commenting on the deal, Andrew Kerr said, “A deep rooted understanding of Ireland’s highly competitive energy retail sector and increasing regulatory demands enabled us to successfully bring this transaction into fruition. This is an extremely significant acquisition for Flogas and is closely aligned with its long term strategy to become one of Ireland’s leading all-island energy suppliers.”

Pinsent Masons advised Flogas on all aspects of the acquisition and was led by Andrew Kerr and Lisa Early with support from Danielle McKeefry, Dorian Rees, Laura McCrea and Craig Patterson.

The deal marks another important milestone in Pinsent Masons’ long standing relationship with DCC plc. Last year, the firm advised DCC Vital in its sale of Kent Pharmaceuticals.

Pinsent Masons advises WElink on 133 MW Puerto Real 1 sale

Multinational law firm Pinsent Masons has advised WElink Group, a leading international provider of renewable energy and low-carbon construction solutions, on its sale of the 133 MW Puerto Real 1 project in Spain.

Asset manager Capital Dynamics acquired a 100% equity stake in the project through its subsidiary Clean Energy Infrastructure business located in Cadiz, southern Spain.

The project site is located in Cadiz province in the Spanish southern region of Andalusia, and the solar farm is scheduled to start commercial operations in the first quarter of 2021. Once operational, the Puerto Real 1 project is estimated to reduce greenhouse emissions by over 175,000 metric tons– the equivalent of emissions produced by 38,000 passenger vehicles driven for a year or the electricity to power almost 30,000 homes for a year. Over the lifetime of the project, the site will employ up to 300 workers, many from the local area.

Pablo Dorronsoro, Head of Energy at Pinsent Masons Madrid office who led the sale, explained, “It’s been a pleasure for us to have supported WElink on this strategic transaction in the Spanish market. This transaction represents the relevance of Spanish renewables for the international investors and the growing interest within such an active market.”

Andrew Dodge, Director of Investments and Transactions Europe at WElink, commented that, “Puerto Real is a significant transaction for WELink as it represents a key milestone in the Spanish market as a subsidy free project. The performance of Pinsent Masons Madrid team has been exemplary especially in light of the significant restrictions imposed by the global pandemic. Their commitment, hard work and resourcefulness was instrumental in ensuring this transaction completed just prior to the lockdown.”

The Pinsent Masons Madrid team advised WElink in all related matters of the project, including: (i) preparing and updating due diligence report, (ii) regulatory advice necessary for the development of the project and the project agreements, (iii) interconnection agreement and incorporation of EIG; (iv) expropriation procedures, (v) real estate matters. The firm also advised WElink in its previous acquisition of the project from Ansasol, and its development until RTBS.

Partner Pablo Dorronsoro led the transaction working closely with Partner Idoya Arteagabeitia; Senior Associates Marta Salazar and Gabriela Camuñas; Associates Javier Alagón, Olimpia Ortega and Mar Cabrera and Lawyer Pedro Gila.

Pinsent Masons advises HZI on its first Energy from Waste Plant

International law firm Pinsent Masons has advised HZI on the development of the A$511 million East Rockingham Resource Recovery Facility in Western Australia.

The East Rockingham Resource Recovery Facility Project, which will be Australia’s second ‘energy from waste’ plant (EfW), is set to go into operation by the end of 2022. Pinsent Masons is advising Swiss cleantech company Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI) as developer, part-owner, co-operator and EPC joint venture contractor of the plant, which is the company’s first EfW plant in Australia.

The plant will process 300,000 tonnes of municipal and industrial waste a year to generate 28.9 MWe of energy into the grid. Construction is scheduled to begin at the beginning of January 2020.

The project was developed by a consortium consisting of HZI, New Energy Corporation and Tribe Infrastructure. The contract to design, build and commission the plant was awarded by the project shareholders to an EPC consortium formed by Acciona and HZI.

Commenting on the deal, energy and infrastructure partner, Anthony Arrow, said the project supports HZI’s reputation as a global leader in the energy from waste market. “We are pleased to have worked alongside HZI on their first project in Australia, which will bring enormous waste management benefits for the environment and at the same time generate electricity.”

“This work also demonstrates our team’s strength in the energy sector. Our focus continues to be on the changes and latest advancements in the industry, from both a global and local perspective, which is why we’re able to deliver practical legal advice to energy clients operating anywhere.”

HZI was supported by a Pinsent Masons cross-border team, with involvement across each of our Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Birmingham offices. The Australia team acting on the transaction included partner Anthony Arrow, partner George Varma, special counsel Catherine Bendeich, special counsel Katie Joukadjian, legal director Ed Kelly, associate Toby Evans, associate Cameron Reid, lawyer Susan Xu and graduate lawyers Jesse Chen, Lydia Holt and Nicola Macrow on project advisory and the EPC contract; partner Jeremy King and lawyer Shubho Mukherjee on project financing; partner Bill Ryan and lawyer Chris Zhang on risk advisory; and partner Brian Scott, associate Lucy Carter and lawyers Lisa Meyer and Ananya Mittra on corporate-related matters. Support from the UK team was led by partner Didar Dhillon.

Digitalisation maturity across the energy value chain

From 30 October until 1 November 2019, the Asia Clean Energy Summit took place in Singapore. Matthias Lang discussed the digitalisation maturity across the energy value chain focusing on the current legal framework, use cases of digitalisation in the energy sector and possibilities and challenges of digitalisation.

On 31 October 2019 four different panels discussed the digital transformation of energy. The panels focused on ‘Digitalisation maturity across the energy value chain’, ‘Developing a digital energy ecosystem’, ‘Enabling e-mobility: Business models, infrastructure, technologies, stakeholders’ and ‘IT security and resiliency in the critical power sector’.

Matthias Lang participated in the panel ‘Digitalisation maturity across the energy value chain’ along with:

  • Franck Bernard, CEO of Nippon Koei Energy Europe
  • Pierre Cheyron, CEO of ENGIE South East Asia
  • Praveen Kumar Lala, Director Customer Success of Power APAC & India GE Digital
  • Nirupa Chander, Country Managing Director of ABB Power Grids Singapore
  • Mathias Steck, EVP & Regional Manager of Digital Hub Asia DNV GL – Digital Solutions

Matthias pointed out that digitalisation is a key instrument in the future energy transition. Along the energy value chain digitalisation has been used for a long time for backend solutions but energy digitalisation is more about future frontend business models. Future digital business models need a secure legal framework to be able to develop but digitalisation in the energy sector is still in its developing phase. The legal framework has to be secure and transformative to pave the way for a more and more mature digitalisation across the energy value chain.

Digitalisation in the energy sector can be utilised in different ways. Introducing new technologies like Blockchain to create peer-to-peer trading platforms demonstrates the possibilities and challenges of digitalisation.

The European Clean Energy Package takes an important step towards utilising digital solutions for the clean energy transition and building a more flexible electricity system, but is only an early step towards a more comprehensive, mature and digital legal framework.

If you would like to find out more information, please visit: https://www.twobirds.com/

EG PHOTO

Seven things you need to know about the future of energy

The energy industry of old just doesn’t cut it anymore, and time is running out to switch to cleaner and smarter ways of providing power before it’s too late. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in its report released in early October, based on current emissions levels the world will reach 1.5 degrees Celsius degrees of warming, compared to pre-industrial, temperatures, by 2030.

So what can be done? At WIRED Smarter some of the smartest minds in the energy world came together to explore what the future of the energy industry might look like. Here’s the best of what we learned from a packed speaker line-up that included Bulb CEO Hayden Wood, Verv COO Maria McKavanagh and DeepMind’s Sims Witherspoon.

1. Little pushes can add up to big changes in customer behaviour

“What we find is that by having a relationship with customers we can change their behaviour,” says Hayden Wood, CEO of clean energy supplier Bulb. His customers who received annual energy reports ended up reducing their energy usage by two per cent, compared to those who didn’t receive the reports.

That might not sound like much, but it is estimated that if everyone in the UK made the same change that’d save customers £560 million a year, and stop 36m tonnes of CO2 being released into the atmosphere, Wood says.

2. Cutting down CO2 emissions isn’t enough – we have to remove them too

“We will need to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere,” if we’re to stop the most extreme impacts of climate change says Jan Wurzbacher, founder and director of Climeworks, a start-up that builds infrastructure to capture carbon from the atmosphere and lock it deep underground.

Last year in Zurich, Climeworks plants removed 900 tonnes of CO2 that was used to supply greenhouses. But his goal is to eliminate eight billion tonnes from the atmosphere, and to do that he needs policymakers to wake up to the potential benefits of carbon capture. “Changes in policy are much easier if we show there are solutions and we’re not 100 years away,” Wurzbacher says.

3. AI isn’t a fix-all cure, but it is a powerful tool for energy efficiency

“Artificial intelligence is not magic sparkle dust,” says Sims Witherspoon, applied artificial intelligence program manager at DeepMind. But if you’re smart about how you use it, AI could have a huge impact on how we heat and cool our buildings.

“AI can show us creativity but it also has the ability to show us new knowledge,” she says. By using AI to analyse energy use in Google’s data centres, the firm was able to save 30 per cent on energy by switching to an AI system that optimised the cooling system in real-time. And there’s potentially no limit to the gains that these kinds of systems can squeeze out, Witherspoon says. “Rules and heuristics don’t get better – AI does.”

4. Smarter energy forecasts could cut down on the amount of energy used

“Today’s energy system is broken, it has failed to innovate at the same rate as other industries and as a result it is in a race to zero profits,” says Maria McKavanagh, COO at Verv, a company that builds intelligent home hubs that track a home’s energy usage. But by accurately predicting the amount of energy a home will use, she says it could allow people to trade energy with their neighbours.

“We can forecast more accurately than anyone else what the energy consumption of that house is going to be in the next five minutes, hours, or even few months,” McKavanagh says. Verv’s monitoring system samples energy usage millions of times every second and then uses that data to predict future energy usage.

And if energy providers got their hands on this data, they could use it to target energy supply to the right areas at the right times, cutting down on wasted energy product. “If the national grid could forecast with extreme accuracy the energy requirements of every home, we would be able to service that demand,” she says.

5. Energy users might be the people that end up driving change

“Consumers are actually far more forward-thinking than government can sometimes be,” says Juliet Davenport, CEO of renewable energy firm Good Energy. “We’re going to have to make it easier if we’re going to get massive uptake of renewables.”

This means making it easier for people to switch to renewable providers and giving people more options – such as letting them buy excess renewable energy from neighbours over a peer-to-peer marketplace. And at the heart of this all is making products that people want to use, Davenport says. “We have to put ourselves in people’s shoes when we’re designing for people, whether that’s a potato peeler or an energy app.”

6. It’s time to stop thinking about energy supply and start thinking about demand

Deptford power station – then the world’s largest energy facility – first rumbled into action on the south bank of the River Thames in 1891. Since then, the logistics of energy distribution have changed fairly little, says Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO of the energy firm OVO energy.

“You build a large power station, you have a very long wire and you put customers at the end of is,” Fitzpatrick says, and the only way of meeting demand is raising the output of those vast power stations. But it’s time for that to change. Fitzpatrick says we should be connecting our energy supplies to the internet, so we can better predict and manage demand, flipping the previous way of distributing energy on its head. “We need to control the demand to meet the supply,” he says.

[h2]Smart homes might not be as clever as we might think/h2]

It’s all very well having connected smart devices that monitor our energy usage, let us set alarms through voice control and adjust the thermostat, but is this technology really as futuristic as it seems? Designer and author Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino isn’t so sure.

“The home is not a system,” Deschamps-Sonsino says – and we should be wary about devices that reduce our living spaces to slickly-oiled, impersonal machines. Why? Well, the impact of smart devices might stretch far beyond our homes and impact how we use public spaces. “Space dictates what people will and won’t do, how much time they’ll spend in places and how they’ll use the rest of the city as well,” she says.

7. It’s time for the green battery revolution

About two-thirds of all of the energy that’s produced in the world ends up being wasted, says Martin Anderlind, chief business development officer at battery firm Northvolt. The problem? There aren’t enough storage options to keep that energy around until its needed.

“We need to be able to store energy in time, not just be able to move it around geographically,” Anderlind says. And this means investing big in battery production. In 2021, Northvolt is planning on opening a 370 megawatt factory in Vasteras, Sweden, that should be able to produce 200 batteries a month.