Patience creates fuel for opportunity

From 1 to 100 employees in just three years!

Hola, I’m Fernando, Country Head for Lightsource bp in Spain. Today we’ve reached 100 employees across the country in just three short years.

Our Madrid base has grown from a small and local development arm in 2019, into Lightsource bp’s vibrant and diverse European Hub, where many teams come together to collaborate and support our global ambition in person and through hybrid meetings. Most of our team members joined remotely during the pandemic, and as our office begins to open again, it’s so good to see the smiles, laughs and lively debates in person. Though just 3 years ago, things were very different… and much quieter.

Home was always on my mind, especially the Spanish sun!

I joined Lightsource bp [then Lightsource] in 2012, at the height of the company’s growth in UK solar development which kept me really, really, busy!  However, being Spanish and working in the UK, I had always kept close ties to home and a very close eye on the Spanish energy market [maybe it was the weather?].

In 2016, huge changes to UK policy accelerated our ambitions to grow internationally. We began assessing opportunities beyond Europe and this is what really prompted me to highlight Spain as an option. The key fundamentals for solar success already existed – sun, land, grid and there was a lot of expectation that the market was about to boom again.

Two research trips, a few business plan presentations, and 18 months later

I made two trips to collect research and insights on the ground to help shape the business plan for a potential market entry, but it wasn’t an immediate yes from the Investment Committee. The business was going through a huge period of change, starting up its partnership with bp, so it was about finding the right time. I must admit, after three rounds of presentations, I was feeling a bit frustrated, but something inside me kept pushing and, finally, in late 2018 we got approval for market entry!

Just a guy with the 100-day plan for Spain

Although I was excited, I was also quite nervous about all the work that needed to be done. We had to start from scratch and my role took on a whole new level – setting up legal entities, finding an office and recruiting on top of trying to source projects. Overlay that with moving house and country with a family of six; it was really one of the most stressful times in my life!

I have memories of escaping to the local park for conference calls, while the movers were packing up. But when we finally settled back in Spain, the gratitude and joy I felt was incomparable.

A 50MW target leads to a multi-GW pipeline opportunity and Lightsource bp’s largest project 

Things moved very quickly for us. We had only been active in the market a few months and with a very lean team, we managed to issue an offer and gain exclusivity on the 250MW Vendimia cluster In Zaragoza with our co-development partner, Forestalia. Thanks to the huge efforts from the team and the enormous support from Lightsource bp HQ in London, we were able to close the acquisition and reach financial close in just about six months. Considering we were starting from scratch as the first project in Spain, this was a remarkable achievement for us, given all the other new-market entry complexities we were dealing with.

The speed and momentum from our first deal has continued growing a large pipeline [over 3 Gigawatts] and 400MW into financial close and construction. These results reflect the talent, experience and capability of all the individuals that have chosen to join our team.

10, 50, 100 …people and probably double again this year

A new team member made me stop and think recently. It’s so easy to get caught up in the complexities of delivering projects and meeting targets, that we forget to reflect on the accomplishments that got us here.

Reaching 100 employees in Spain is truly a milestone. Not just for our team in Spain, but a celebration for Lightsource bp globally. It’s a huge accomplishment growing and embedding into a new market so quickly. When we first started, not many people really knew Lightsource bp and now we’re recognised as one of the leading solar companies in the market.

I am personally very thankful for the great leap of faith Lightsource bp took in backing the business plan and the immense support from colleagues all around the world who continue to impact and fuel our growth. Considering more than half of our team has been onboarded remotely and through a pandemic, it truly is a testament of how resilient solar is and the agility of our business as we continue to adapt through this great period of change. I’m looking forward to seeing what new opportunities will arise in the next couple of years as we continue to positively impact Spain’s energy transition. As you have learned from the above, I’m a very patient and persevering man.

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