Franchises dedicated to the sale of small solar generation systems, typically installed on residential and commercial roofs, have seen exponential business growth in 2021.
Big chains in this niche – as Solarprime, Energy Brasil, and Blue Sol – expect to double the number of stores compared to last year and are looking for ways to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market. Strategies range from franchises in containers and offering financing for the acquisition of photovoltaic systems to plans to cross-sell chargers for electric cars.
The increase in energy tariffs this year, as a reflection of the water crisis, further accelerated the expansion of distributed solar energy, a market that until 2017 was incipient and today already corresponds to more than half of the installed solar generation power in the country. Today, small solar systems are concentrated mainly in homes — they account for 75% of the 520,000 existing systems and 40% of the 6 GW of power of distributed generation, according to the Brazilian Association of Photovoltaic Solar Energy (Absolar).
With more consumers seeing their own energy production as an alternative to reduce their electricity bills, more entrepreneurs became interested in franchises in the segment.
The main driver of franchise sales has been the “home-based” model, which requires reduced investment and suffered less from the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. “We have grown a lot in the ‘home-based line. We consider there is a suitable profile of entrepreneur seeking a cheaper way to enter the solar segment”, says Solarprime CEO Marcelo Nogueira.
Based in Campinas, about 100 kilometers from São Paulo, Solarprime was born in 2016 and today is controlled by three partners – Raphael Brito, Agnaldo Marques, and Sandro Cubas, each with specific “expertise” in the business world. From 2018, when the solar market began to grow, to now, the company saw revenue grow 10 times, and the expectation is to reach R$300 million in 2021. In number of stores, Solarprime closed last year with 330 units, has already reached 400, and intends to end this year with 500.
To maintain the expansion route, the company aims at new areas and ways of acting. According to Mr. Nogueira, Solarprime wants to verticalize the business, which will go through the financing offer of the generation systems and the direct import of the equipment that make up the solar “kits”, such as panels and inverters.
“On the financing side, we can start with simpler models, with credit-receivable funds (FIDCs) and companies that provide this service. Naturally, we would evolve to have our own license. We want to be ready at the beginning of the year to start making concessions,” he says.
The investment for installing solar generation systems is still relatively high, but new lines of credit are making the alternative more affordable. By the current rules of the electricity sector, the consumer gets a drastic and immediate reduction in electricity bills when she switches to producing her own energy. The idea is to take advantage of this situation to fit the installments of the financing, without creating an additional cost.
At Energy Brasil, the strategy to stand out in the market involves taking the brand to the streets. The company will abandon the sale of the “home office” franchise model because it considers that it brings little visibility to the brand. “When you go out to buy home appliances, construction materials, you have some shops in your head. But for solar energy today there is no reference. We want to occupy this space with physical units”, says managing partner Marcelo Macri.
Founded in 2019, Energy Brasil already has 400 stores and intends to reach 600 by the end of the year, doubling against the 300 at the end of 2020.
Today, 70% of Energy Brasil’s network is made up of “home office” franchises, which will no longer be marketed — the expectation is that part of the units will migrate to physical points. The big novelty will be the container store, which allows the franchisee to circulate between different publics, settling near shopping malls and condominiums, for example.
One of the pioneers in the solar market, Blue Sol was born in 2008 with the training of professionals and, in 2017, debuted the franchise model. Today, it has 100 franchises and 20 more being implemented. The goal is to reach the end of 2021 with 330 units, between open and contracted franchises. The turnover is expected to double by 2020, reaching R$150 million.
From this year, the company started to count on a strategic partner: EDP Brasil, one of the main groups in the national electricity sector. “EDP legitimizes our business model, shows that solar energy has already gained a lot of importance for the sector. They bring us a lot of knowledge, good opportunities, and a very strong governance,” says José Renato Colaferro, founding partner and Chief Operating Officer of Blue Sol.
For the future, the company aims at opportunities with the development of electric mobility in the country. “Solar generation will be the electric car gas station, the customers will generate their own fuel on the roof of their home, company,” says Mr. Colaferro. “We imagine one day doing cross-selling of electric chargers. Infrastructure has to be created before the growth of the electric vehicles fleet.”
Source: Valor international