Paul Tummers, CEO of Virya Energy, the energy holding of Korys and Colruyt Group, reflects on the transition from Parkwind to JERA: “Like parents watching their child leave the nest, we find ourselves equally proud and nostalgic as Parkwind moves forward. This divestment marks an important juncture in our collective journey which started already back in 2009. Now we are witnessing the offshore industry evolve to a new phase in which we are no longer able to provide the adequate support to Parkwind. This is why we looked for a new investor for Parkwind, a path that eventually led us to JERA.
In comparison to a decade ago, wind farm concessions have increased severalfold in size, from 150MW to 1 GW or more. The growth this industry has witnessed over the last years, accelerated by national targets linked to climate change and need for energy independence, has reshuffled the success criteria and the risk profile of the sector.
JERA, a global energy player came forward as an excellent partner to support the Parkwind“platform” into this new market reality. It was a big responsibility to undertake this intense process with the teams of Virya Energy, Colruyt Group, Korys and, of course, Parkwind. Our priority was to find a new shareholder with an industrial vision that recognizes the value and full potential of Parkwind.” Paul Tummers summarizes: ”I believe we have successfully fulfilled our mission. Parkwindis now set and ready for new milestones and achievements. I will surely follow their progress, filled with pride and satisfaction. We will always remain honored about the role we as Virya, Colruyt Group and Korys could play with Parkwind, as the initial champions in what now has become the worldwide offshore industry.”
“It felt as we were the free spirited hippies of the industry” – Eric Antoons Co-CEO of Parkwind
What set the whole project into motion?
“I felt it straight away: this is a great opportunity. A small team, a strong belief in sustainability, the unwavering support of Korys and a huge amount of guts: that’s how it began. It’s entrepreneurship in its purest form: you start from scratch, because you believe in it. An offshore windfarm was one of a kind in Belgium,” says François Van Leeuw, co-CEO of Parkwind, about the early days.
“At the time, the traditional utility sector was still looking at us with some hesitation. It felt as if we were the free-spirited hippies of the industry,” Eric Antoons, co-CEO of Parkwindmuses with a smile on his face. But thanks to our perseverance, we made the impossible possible. Every time.”
Can you give examples of how you made the impossible possible?
Eric Antoons nodds: “We grabbed the chance to work on an offshore project that –at the time –was furthest away from land. We were always inspired to take the project to the next level. Installing the first 55km cable between land and a wind farm? We did it. Getting a fully floating set-up ready with turbines? We made it happen. Gradually, we transformed from an initial pioneering phase into an industrial setting with streamlined work process, structures and capacities. A scalable model.”
What determines the success rate of a scalable model?
François explains: “Scalability is not just a matter of assets. Sure, you can market a portfolio of green energy, but it’s about a lot more. It’s about finding those trusty pioneers who believe in you –like Korys. And it’s also about building a team, investing in expertise and implementing successful processes. That’s the real catalyst to growth.”
Eric continues: “We often get the question ‘what is your secret?’ It’s about creating a corporate culture and identity. People feel at home at Parkwind. We care for the environment and for our safety..”
Why is it such a good match with JERA now?
“Without the support of Korys, we would not be standing here today. It is valuable how they were such champions of our story from the start,” François states. “With JERA, we are now spreading our wings and moving towards a new horizon to expand our growth.”
Eric Antoonsconcludes: ”Throughout the process we noticed that JERA listens to us and understands our values. With the next move towards JERA, we are positioning Parkwindinto a bigger energetic story, relating wind energy to other energy vectors such as hydrogen and ammonia.”