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After the exceptional record year of 2017, WEB Windenergie AG (W.E.B) was once again able to generate good results under significantly more difficult wind conditions in 2018. “Last year our production exceeded the magical threshold of 1,000 GWh for the first time. Although we missed this target by a slim margin this year, 2018 was still an extraordinary and very good year for W.E.B,” as the Chair of the Board of Directors, Frank Dumeier, attested at today’s Annual Results Press Conference in Vienna. “2018 was one of the most challenging production years in corporate history. We performed better than projected in only four out of twelve months and missed our targets the rest of the year. Generating as much electricity as we did was certainly a remarkable accomplishment.”
Aside from the highly professional operations management and maintenance at W.E.B, another key factor to this success was the consequent and international expansion of the company’s own plant portfolio in recent years. In 2018 the company increased its overall plant capacity by 47 MW. Frank Dumeier: “We had announced an expansion of around 50 MW and kept our promise: seven projects in four countries were connected to the power grid in 2018. In addition to our new construction projects, we managed to acquire two already established photovoltaic farms with a total capacity of 6 MW in Italy, thereby almost doubling our Italian output in this segment. Today our plants abroad generate even more electricity than our Austrian ones.”
And the story continues: W.E.B currently has wind farms with a capacity of about 60 MW either already in construction or soon to enter the construction phase, including the first Italian wind farm of W.E.B and the first project in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. In other words, W.E.B is not only proceeding with its growth strategy but even accelerating its pace with unabated intensity.
The plans of W.E.B are further boosted by the internationally positive attitude towards renewable energy. Frank Dumeier: “Last December’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice confirmed once again that the public has become aware of the issue of energy transition. Today many stakeholders work together and we are finally drawing closer to reaching our common goal. Technological progress and new concepts for using green electricity as well as innovative marketing models play a vital part in this development.” As CFO Michael Trcka explained, “The simple fact that the generation of electricity from wind and solar energy also has the edge over conventional forms of production in terms of costs adds additional momentum. And the global trend towards ethical and green investments serves as clear evidence.”
This dynamic development is further characterized by the innovative marketing model of electricity produced by W.E.B as “W.E.B Green Energy”. In the 2018 fiscal year alone, the company was able to more than double its number of customers in the direct marketing business. The most recent success story is a contract with the Diocese Graz-Seckau, which not only added another 1,500 meter points but is also promising further cooperation in the production of clean electricity. Michael Trcka: “Receiving the Austrian Ecolabel in 2018 and once again assuming the pole position in the annual electricity supplier check of WWF and GLOBAL 2000 is a great advantage. In the last six months, we were only able to process the flood of inquiries thanks to the exceptional dedication and commitment of our team.”
Despite the challenging wind year, key financial figures of W.E.B have remained stable. Michael Trcka: “Of course the lower production results are also reflected in our economic figures: our sales revenue went down by approximately 3 percent, and our earnings by share of EUR 27.5 are clearly below the previous year’s level. Nevertheless, it is still the third-best result in corporate history, which clearly confirms the stability of our business model. Against this backdrop, W.E.B is once more able to offer an attractive – even though a little lower than last year – dividend to our shareholders.”
The great appreciation of investors for W.E.B became clear not only in the course of 2018 and the significantly increased price of the W.E.B share, but also in the successful issue of two new wind power bonds. Michael Trcka stated, “We generated EUR 15.1 million within a very short time, and our hybrid bond was ultimately even oversubscribed. In the context of the general trend towards green investments, this success demonstrates that we are able to present investors with a highly appealing offer. We will certainly not deviate from this path and soon issue the next bonds to fund our current investments. The new subscription period will commence on May 7, 2019.”