It's about securing market leadership. With commitments worth billions, the solar unicorn Enpal wants to generate more business through loan offers.

Catching customers with 3.6 billion euros: Enpal founder Mario Kohl

The greentech unicorn Enpal is signaling rapid growth. The Berlin company wants to achieve this particularly through attractive financing offers. The logic: Not everyone has enough cash on hand to be able to afford a solar system or a heat pump – and bank loans often have terms that are too short to be suitable for long-term financing of the systems.

In order to be able to offer suitable financing and installment purchase offers, Enpal has now received one billion euros in refinancing commitments from several banks, including Barclays Europe, Bank of America and Credit Agricole. Enpal itself also contributes a small amount of equity capital to the loan commitments.

This is a securitization; the loans are secured by the solar startup's customer receivables. The credit lines will be used to provide more than 35,000 German residential customers with a financing solution for new photovoltaic systems and other renewable energy products. For the first time, the offer is being expanded to include the financing of heat pumps – a business that is becoming strategically more important for the company, as Enpal financing manager Béla Schramm tells Gründerszene. Enpal now has two years to release the billion euros to customers.

Enpal sells energy storage, electric vehicle charging stations and heat pumps, all connected, managed and optimized via Enpal's own energy management platform. The company was founded in 2017 by Mario Kohl, who had previously sold his startup buyer portal for millions.

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Raising capital as the main task

In order to finance the purchase of the expensive systems, Enpal has already resorted to loan products several times. Most recently, the company took on more than 400 million euros in debt from DWS, Phoenix Group, ING Deutschland and Black Rock in June 2023. According to the company's own information, the total liabilities for the structured refinancing of the company currently amount to more than 3.6 billion euros.

At the end of 2023, Enpal secured fresh capital for new projects in a special way: the solar startup sold the majority of its existing customer portfolio. According to the company's own information, this brought 160 million euros into the company's coffers. The portfolio of energy systems was taken over by the infrastructure investors Equitix and Keppel, the latter is a subsidiary of the sovereign wealth fund Temasek from Singapore. Meanwhile, Mario Kohl's startup wants to maintain customer contact in the future. Enpal also wants to sell the new loan financing later – according to Schramm, in a public transaction on the capital market. However, a time for this has not yet been determined.

The company, founded in 2017, has been operating profitably for more than a year. According to preliminary business figures, the Berlin-based company increased sales to around 900 million euros in 2023. That would correspond to growth of 117 percent, as around 415 million euros were generated in the same period last year. Enpal plans to present the final business figures in a few weeks.

Competition with 1 point 5°

This means that Enpal has to narrowly admit defeat to the other German solar unicorn 1Komma5° from founder Philipp Schröder in terms of sales growth. Its sales increased by 122 percent to 458 million euros in 2023. However, Enpal did almost twice as much business in the previous business. For the current year, 1Komma5° boss Schröder expects sales to increase to 700 to 750 million euros.

Like Enpal, 1Komma5° operates profitably; according to its own information, it recorded a profit of 48 million euros before taxes in 2023. This meant the startup was able to more than double its profits. 1Komma5° is pursuing ambitious plans. The startup is planning to go public at Easter 2025. According to a media report, there could be a final financing round in the second quarter of 2024. Up to 100 million euros should be collected. 1Komma5° is in discussions with venture capitalists such as KKR and asset managers such as Blackrock and Morgan Stanley.

Fierce competition has broken out in the solar segment in recent months. In addition to the two top dogs, startups like Zolar and Neoom are also vying for customers' favor. Enpal claims market leadership, more than 60,000 households are currently equipped with the Enpal energy platform, 1Komma5° refers to around 170,000 individual systems sold – i.e. solar systems, wallboxes or control systems.

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