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At Invenergy, a holistic approach to procurement helps shape the the sustainable energy industry
The energy industry is evolving rapidly as governments, companies and consumers demand cleaner and more affordable energy to power their lives. On the cusp of that forward progression is Invenergy, a privately held global developer and operator of sustainable energy solutions. Founded in 2001 by energy industry pioneer Michael Polsky, the Chicago-based energy company has led the energy transition for more than 20 years.
Invenergy develops, engineers, builds, and operates sustainable energy solutions – including wind, solar, natural gas, energy storage, green hydrogen, transmission infrastructure and clean water. With satellite offices in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Spain, Poland, Japan, and Scotland, the company employs about 2,000 people across their corporate and services business units.
Invenergy has the third largest renewable pipeline in the world. Their prominence in the sector was demonstrated this year with the development of their 30th gigawatt (GW), a first for a privately held energy company. Invenergy’s 30 GW of developed projects generates enough energy to power nearly 10 million homes.
The company’s VP of Procurement, Mark Delaney, spearheads the monumental task of sourcing technology for the company. During his 11 year tenure at Invenergy he has worn many hats, including supporting the procurement for industry defining projects. The list includes one of the most efficient natural gas power plants in the United States, the largest solar project in the Western Hemisphere, and for the largest wind project constructed in a single phase.
“The energy industry is moving incredibly quickly,” he told BOSS. And it’s true. When you compare the energy generation industry of today to the activity in the last 20 to 25 years, it’s like night and day. Renewable sources of energy make up the highest percentage of overall generation ever and are projected to increase rapidly. As vast changes have steamrolled ahead, Invenergy has been stalwart in its approach to lead the industry towards a more sustainable future. They own, develop, construct, and operate their own assets. “We are an owner-operator. That’s the core part of our business that has persisted throughout all these changes in the market.”
Their customer base has also evolved over the company’s history, from executing power purchase agreements with their utility partners in the early days to serving those utilities eager to own their own assets. Invenergy is also a player in the consumer industrial space. “As pressure mounts to modernize and clean up the energy industry, the Googles, the Facebooks and other industrials are looking to procure renewable energy, so we work with them as well,” he said.
The owner-operator mentality extends to every area of the business, especially when it comes to working in the communities they serve. “We take the approach that we're going to be a long-term member and contributor to that community,” Delaney said. “We're not looking to build a project, flip the asset, and leave. We're in it for the long haul.” Project design, equipment selections, and suppliers are chosen based on a full evaluation that weighs the long-term operability and reliability of the asset to ensure its success.
Building Supply Chains for a Sustainable World
When it comes to procuring the technology necessary to build a sustainable world, Delaney’s group takes a completely holistic approach to supplier relationship management, collaborating with their suppliers to identify, manage, and de-risk their projects.
Their core supplier base is composed in part by long-term Invenergy partners, which helps the group to stay nimble, act quickly, and strategically seek out opportunities that may have a narrow window of execution. “Looking at this strictly from a supplier perspective, you need to have partners that are going to get us better insights and sometimes even allow us to contribute to the technology road map,” he stressed.
Long established connections keep Invenergy’s procurement team informed about what’s new and what’s next, affording the group the opportunity to incorporate cutting-edge developments into their projects. They use that knowledge to validate equipment performance and to provide constructive feedback on its design.
Invenergy’s sterling reputation hinges on the ability to execute as well as the capacity to grow and adapt their pipeline. In turn, this also helps attract top tier supplier relationship. It also enables them to leverage their pipeline, ensuring the delivery of best-in-class technology and pricing to their customers. “Strong supplier relationships ensure we’re deploying the cutting edge technology to put Invenergy’s projects at the cutting edge of the energy industry. .”
Sourcing the Technology of Tomorrow
The Invenergy procurement team is very technology driven. Delaney holds a B.S. in physics as well as a MSME in mechanical engineering, and many Procurement team members have deep engineering and science expertise.
The team is deeply committed to vetting equipment before purchase. The impacts to projects are analyzed from all angles – including economic and output performance, as well as quality.
“We pride ourselves on being at the leading edge of technology deployment to our projects from all angles,” he said. That's one of the things that excites me most about being part of this organization and this group. The company’s next-gen R&D program allows them to work with suppliers to test out new technology, ultimately enabling them to make data informed decisions about future technology adoptions.
He noted that some major wind turbine manufacturers will be releasing their next generation of projects over the next couple years, and that some have already done so. “It’s an exciting time in the market with respect to new technology offerings – we’re making sure that we’re able to adopt that technology in a way that benefits our projects and our customers,” he enthused.
Another intriguing example is Invenergy’s embrace of bifacial solar panel tech, which, simply put, is a double glass solar panel that allows light to be captured on the backside to produce power. The technology isn't new, but barriers to deployment at scale, such as the difficulty in modeling and forecasting the energy yield of a solar project that uses a bifacial module, had dampened the enthusiasm for it.
Invenergy investigated the efficacy of bifacial modules for 1.5 years. They worked assiduously to get buy-in on the technology from the independent engineering community, the firm’s lenders, and their customers. “We saw where the market was going and we said, we're going to lead out of the gate and deploy this at one of our biggest solar projects,” Delaney recalled. “We're going build a project so efficient the market will have to accept this technology.”
To bring the project to life, the team worked with their in-house and third-party engineers, with Invenergy’s financial group, as well as the key supplier providing the modules to the project. They also put their heads together with their contractors to make sure they were prepared for installation. “As it turned out, we were the first ones to deploy this technology for a utility scale project in the U.S.,” he said. Invenergy is also the first company to finance this type of technology at a utility scale solar project.
“The people on Invenergy’s procurement team are the reason we continually push the industry forward,” Delaney concluded. “Their expertise ensures that we bring the most value we can to our projects and ultimately stay ahead of technology advancement, and sometimes even influencing it to the benefit of our partners and customers.”
Invenergy drives innovation in energy. Invenergy and its affiliated companies develop, own, and operate large-scale renewable and other clean energy generation and storage facilities in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Invenergy's home office is located in Chicago, and it has regional development offices in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Japan, Poland, and Scotland.
Invenergy and its affiliated companies have successfully developed more than 30,000 megawatts of projects that are in operation, construction, or contracted, including wind, solar, transmission infrastructure and natural gas power generation and advanced energy storage.
One South Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone Number: 312.224.1400
Fax Number: 312.224.1444
Homepage Link: https://invenergy.com/