Spotlight On: Francisco Cabadas, Head of Solar at AMP Clean Energy
From a young age, Francisco Cabadas had his sights set on helping create a more sustainable future. Today, his aim is to grow the funding and development opportunities AMP Clean Energy provides to customers in solar energy, supporting UK business decarbonisation.
What sparked your interest in low carbon and renewable energy?
As a child I grew up in between Mexico City and a ranching environment. That set up made me aware of the growing imbalance between nature and cities, and the social, economic and environmental problems created by this imbalance. From a young age I wanted to help reduce that gap and improve sustainability.
What are the major career milestones which led you to where you are today?
In 2007 I was involved in the largest rooftop solar project in South America in a subsidy free market. After this, I knew that I wanted my career to support the deployment of capital for low carbon energy solutions.
Another important turning point came in 2014 when I took a year out to complete a MPhil at Cambridge University. After this I moved to take up a role in Dubai, which was my first experience working in solar outside of Latin America. These two milestones opened up my horizons to working on global solar projects in different subsidy free geographies.
What attracted you to the role at AMP Clean Energy?
The entrepreneurial DNA of the company was very appealing to me, along with the funding and development opportunities across a variety of low carbon solutions, that AMP Clean Energy provides.
From a solar perspective,, I think AMP Clean Energy is one of the few businesses which can develop and fund rooftop solar for a range of businesses and organisations. I’m excited about the prospect of delivering this opportunity to support businesses in their journey to a low carbon future.
What are your aspirations for AMP Clean Energy’s work in solar energy?
Our goal is to help customers decarbonise their operations by offering them solar electricity generated where they consume it, always at competitive prices. We offer Power Purchase Agreements (PPA’s) which provides predictably priced electricity over the long term, generated by solar panels installed on the customers’ roofs or land. These projects, commonly known as ‘behind the meter’, are quick to deploy and efficient, with the price of the electricity generated being lower than the customers’ current grid price.
My aim is to expand the business’ solar PV portfolio by both funding and developing rooftop solar to more organisations. I think there is an opportunity for the manufacturing sector in particular to reap the cost and carbon benefits of solar PV.
Is funding a barrier to businesses and organisations considering solar energy?
For SMEs, capital can be a big constraint to achieving sustainability ambitions. That’s where we come in to help decarbonise operations without impacting on a business’ balance sheet. The financial impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has meant that many organisations, who may have been planning to fund their solar or other low carbon projects, are now conserving their capital. Again, we can help by providing the finance to bring these decarbonisation projects to life.
What do you think about the prospects for the UK solar energy market in a post subsidy world?
As technology prices keep decreasing, the entrance cost barrier for a customer has nearly disappeared. Therefore, I think more organisations will continue to take advantage of solar energy to decarbonise and reduce energy costs. I have always worked in subsidy free markets and the cost of technology is seven times less than twelve years ago when I built my first project with Walmart.
As solar technology costs keep decreasing, the financial feasibility of pairing PV with batteries will, over time, become a standard solution, and that will be the inflection point for solar.
What has been your career highlight?
Building my first solar division and delivering PPA projects even before distributed generation connection rules were in place at WCAP in 2007, was a definite highlight.
Also, before I joined AMP Clean Energy, I put together a manufacturing business for a large UK corporate from scratch, which now has a £2 million turnover. This was in a completely different industry for me, and one of the achievements I feel most proud of.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I really enjoy travelling with my wife, and I am looking forward to being able to do so again in the future. I also enjoy reading novels, and practicing lassoing which is Mexico’s national sport, called Charreria.