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Fuelling a clean future

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“We actively take part in the energy transition in Europe,” says CEO Antoine Millioud. “We focus exclusively on renewable energy with a diversified international strategy. We are convinced that decentralized power generation is the key to the future of renewable energy, and so we invest in small local power plants. Today we have a healthy mix of renewable energy sources including hydro, wind and solar power.”

Until recently, the company operated under the name Kleinkraftwerk Birseck AG, KKB for short. On its tenth anniversary in December 2015, the name was changed.

“As of 2016 our new name is Aventron, a name underlining our focus and our strategy,” states Mr. Millioud. “Aventron is made from the words avenir, the French word for future, and electron for electric power. We already operate under the new name. In May 2016 the name will be officially changed to Aventron AG.”

As the former name indicates, the Swiss company has a long tradition in small power plants, more than 20 years to be exact. Kleinkraftwerk is the German name for small power plant. It all started in 1995 with two small hydropower plants on the Swiss river Birs.

In 2005 the owner, the Swiss regional energy cooperative EBM, decided to strengthen its green energy strategy, and in November 2005, EBM kept 50% of the shares and gave the other 50% to the employees. Initially KKB grew slowly, adding several solar power plants in Switzerland. 2010 saw the first burst of growth through a capital injection and the expansion into foreign markets.

KKB acquired hydropower plants in France. The next significant growth followed in 2013 with the strategy of diversification in terms of technologies and markets. In the same year, Mr. Millioud joined the company as CEO and contributed substantially to developing and realizing the new strategy.

“The new strategy resulted in tripling the turnover between 2013 and 2015,” underlines the CEO. “Today, we have a mix of small hydro, solar and wind power plants in Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy and Norway with a total capacity of 160 MW. And we keep expanding the portfolio. We have just acquired two wind parks in France and shares in five hydropower plants in Norway. In 2014 we generated a turnover of 15 million CHF, and we are looking forward to well above 20 million CHF in 2015.”

At present hydro and wind power plants each account for 40% of sales and solar power for 20%. “This ratio is due to the capacities,” says Mr. Millioud. “Photovoltaic plants generate far less power than wind and hydropower plants. The year 2015 provides an excellent example of the advantages of the mix. 2015 was an extremely dry year, so the proportion of hydropower was extremely low. Thanks to the mix, we could compensate for the losses with wind and solar power. 80% of the power we generate is supported by local subsidies and sold via the local networks. The remaining 20% is generated by older hydropower plants which are not supported. We sell this power to the market, some of which goes directly to industrial corporations. Rather than an operator, we are an investment company today, active in asset management and the acquisition of green power plants. Embarking on an ambitious growth strategy, we aim to increase the capacity of the portfolio to 500 MW by 2020. Raising capital for our growth is the major target. Listed on the Berne eXchange, BX, we are owned by EBM and two other Swiss public utilities as majority shareholders with 80% and by private and institutional investors holding 20% of shares. We want to change the proportion to 70/30 to enable more investors to participate in the future of renewable energy.”

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