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Company Voice: Serena, Brazil

Serena is a leading player in the renewable energy space in Brazil and the largest publicly listed pure renewable energy generation company in Latin America. For over 15 years, we have been fuelled by the generosity of nature, making clean solar and wind energy accessible to all – from large global companies seeking sustainable profitability to families looking for guilt-free energy consumption, in harmony with society’s call for sustainability. With the capacity to power 4.8 million homes, Serena is a pioneer in developing clean technologies that bring sustainable energy to every consumer.
Serena Brazil

How did Serena start and what has driven its success?

As a serial entrepreneur I’d worked across different sectors, mostly in technology. In 2008, I saw the demand for investment into renewable energy and since the renewables market in Brazil was nascent, we started from scratch. We have since evolved to become the largest wind and solar company in Brazil and we are now extending into other markets in the Americas. Since our IPO in 2017, we have grown our generation capacity more than 10x.

Two years ago we launched a digital platform and were the first company to sell energy digitally in Brazil. That changed the business. We are still focused on supplying large businesses with Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and supply Heineken and Cargill, for example, but this digital approach has also enabled us to sell to smaller commercial and industrial (C&I) clients and even to households.

serena 1
serena 1

How did the Actis investment come about?

When we were searching for the right partners in 2022, Actis had just sold significant large wind and solar platforms in the region, Echoenergia and Atlas. We had a good relationship with the Actis team and saw opportunities for them to help us both operationally and with the entrance in new markets.

Actis is one of the few investors in the world that truly understands the entire renewable energy chain. They have a big network and look to drive value creation, so we are well aligned.

Do you have any specific examples of how Actis has supported Serena?

Actis helps to shape future strategy, but also on a day-to-day level. Their strong connections with global suppliers are hugely valuable. For example, they recently supported us with solving a major issue with one of our suppliers in Europe.

This global network enables us to develop our approach to entering new markets and how to recycle capital in those markets. They understand the local nuances and can access their wider platform.

Our vision is to become the largest renewable digital energy player in the Americas, and I believe Actis’ cross disciplinary skills in energy and digital infrastructure can support us accomplishing this.

How do you draw on the One Actis model?

Last year I participated in a global renewables meeting with other Actis portfolio companies. Management teams of power companies from India, Mexico and Europe spent a week together, sharing knowledge, experiences, and challenges. It was a hugely valuable and energising week.

Why did Actis invest in Serena?

Serena was a pioneer in the renewable space in Brazil, and for years a player we admired from a distance, as well as one of our fiercest competitors. Originally backed by private equity, they have a top quality fleet of assets, with good contracts in place, and a high-octane management team with the entrepreneurial mindset that we typically aim to instil in the platforms that we back. When the markets had a downcycle in 2022, especially in Brazil, we had an opportunity to partner with them and join the control group of Serena.

This is the largest publicly listed wind and solar company in Brazil. We have recently delivered the Company’s largest investment programme to date with over 800MW of newly added capacity. There is also a massive potential to grow the C&I opportunity in Brazil, with the digital model an important engine of Serena’s initiatives in this space.

How has the One Actis model helped Serena?

We helped Serena to bring its large-scale investment plan and regional expansion to fruition.

Frequent touchpoints with Actis’ Operations team helped structuring and developing the projects, while our global network helped to unlock ad-hoc issues with suppliers.

Regarding the regional expansion, Actis has offered a top-down strategic view of the broader regional opportunity, as well as tactical advice on the specifics of the go-to-market strategy to enter the US and position Serena as an Americas champion.

The Management Team offsite is an experience that has also proved valuable to them, and vice-versa, with Antonio Bastos (founder and CEO) and Andrea Sztajn (CFO) being two of the most acclaimed speakers at the event.