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Company Reports - Infinis  


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Infinis: Renewable growth

By Lucy Mowatt

As the Director of Strategy for Infinis, Wayne Henderson oversees the company's strategic plans to deliver renewable energy resource projects in line with government legislation and which fulfil the c
Infinis: Renewable growth
As the Director of Strategy for Infinis, Wayne Henderson oversees the company's strategic plans to deliver renewable energy resource projects in line with government legislation and which fulfil the company's commitment to becoming Europe's leading generator of renewable energy. As such, he has a very dynamic role within the business. He says: "The industry's growing fast; there's a continual need to be reviewing and improving strategy."

Infinis was only set up in 2006, but was previously a part of WRG for more than two decades. In light of this, there is a continual need to develop and grow as a business.

The renewable power generator is owned by Terra Firma, the private equity company. Wayne Henderson enthuses about the benefits of having such a supportive owner, saying: "One of the reasons that it's a great private equity business is that the people there have great minds have years of experience in business, and from our point of view, they are backing us 100 percent. They intend to hold on to us and help us grow and they're very hands-on; they provide a lot of guidance and experience to us, as well as financial backing."

The company is always looking at possible acquisitions and to grow significantly in this respect. Wayne Henderson states: "The industry itself is very undeveloped at the moment, so its not like there are many large wind farms or biomass plants. However, there are a number of project developers, who are trying to get new plants up and running."

He explains that as the UK's largest purely renewable power generator, it is in a suitable position to assist in these moves and acquire more projects. "We can work with developers to finance their projects and effectively help put them into operation." Both Infinis and Terra Firma are looking for new opportunities to build on this business and acquire new companies.

Significant acquisitions
In 2007 the company acquired the assets of RE-Gen, part of the Summerleaze group. This effectively added 42MW to its rapidly growing renewable power generation portfolio, bringing the total to around 260MW, providing enough power for 400,000 homes. The portfolio has the potential to develop further, which will fulfil Infinis' remit to generate more electricity from renewable sources. Infinis produced approximately ten percent of the renewable energy generated in the UK last year.

Mr Henderson explains how landfill sites can be used to generate electricity. He says: "The way that landfill works is that landfill operators will fill up a site over many years, perhaps even decades, and the biological decomposition of this waste gives off methane, which is very bad for the environment. The Environment Agency has always required that methane be destroyed, and we do that and produce electricity across the lifecycle of our landfill sites."

Although this is Infinis' main source of energy, there have also been moves to look seriously at wind farm generation and the use of biomass as a renewable fuel. Infinis recently acquired the share capital of Scottish Biopower Limited and Scottish Biofuel Limited, which bring development rights to over 125MW of wind farms and 125MW of biomass power generation assets. The Director of Strategy explains that the company has 80 sites located throughout the UK mainland, where they employ around 230 people, although Mr. Henderson states that this figure is continually increasing.

One of the benefits of working for Infinis, he explains, is the new Infinis Small Steps scheme, which offers grants to employees that wish to become more energy efficient in their everyday lives. To this end, the company offers grants to workers that wish to invest in a more environmentally friendly car, or want to add a micro generator to their homes.
There is also a strong focus on employee health and safety at all of Infinis' sites.

One individual is dedicated to reporting to the CEO of the business specifically about health, safety, environment and quality. They ensure that everyone follows the correct processes and knows how to work safely. There are also quarterly reviews of safety performance and any issues are addressed at the start of each weekly management meeting.

The KPI for health and safety across the business is ahead of the waste sector average, but Infinis wants to be the leading company for health and safety in the power generating sector. As such, Infinis has a lot of work to do, but it's something Mr Henderson is confident about.

Raising brand awareness
There are also plans underway to become involved in the local community, which will not only make people aware of renewable energy, but will also create good local relationships. The Infinis brand, Wayne Henderson elaborates, has only really developed in 2007, now that the business has a fully developed strategy and plan. He says: "We've worked with some very good companies; we used CTN for our website and we've worked with Bell Pottinger and 85four, who provided us with some excellent advice in terms of getting our brand established and we've really only just started on that journey."

The company is now expecting to see multi-digit percentage growth of revenues over the next five years.

The government in the UK, like many others throughout the EU, is using a variety of financial incentives to encourage the use of renewable sources of power, from which Infinis has benefited.

Mr Henderson explains that there is a Renewable Obligation Certificate, which licensed electricity suppliers have to produce to show that they have sourced their quota of power from renewable sources. If they cannot prove how much power they have produced from such means they have to buy the certificate, creating a powerful incentive for generation companies to seek out renewable resources. It also supports companies like Infinis - supporting their continued investment in renewable power as well as supporting their goals.

Infinis' health, safety and environmental performance is further reinforced by the fact that it holds the ISO 14001 certificate.

Ongoing developments
Wayne Henderson, however, suggests that more could be done to encourage moves into new methods of power generation. He states that the National Grid system could be updated, making it easier for small renewable power distribution companies to connect through local distributors. There is also what he calls a 'bottleneck' in the transmission capacity between Scotland and England, which is creating obstacles for renewable power developers in Scotland.

However, he concludes by saying: "The whole renewable sector - aside from being essential to us as a society - is a wonderful business opportunity." In the future the company will be looking to develop its technological capabilities, efficiency, new sources of energy and acquiring projects and businesses. All in all, the future looks bright for Infinis.
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