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Interview: Priit Lepasepp of Sunly

Priit Lepasepp is the CEO & Founder of Sunly, an Estonian renewable energy company as well as an investor in renewable energy and electrification startups. Sunly, which develops renewable energy projects in the Baltics and Poland, was established by the 4Energia team following the sale of its shares to Enefit Green in 2018. At the time of its acquisition, 4Energia was the biggest renewable energy company in the Baltics. Today, Sunly is rapidly developing and building solar and wind parks in cooperation with communities as well as developing energy storage.

Tell us about yourself. What were the steps that led you to founding Sunly?

I’m from Haapsalu, a small town in Western Estonia. I studied law and worked at a law firm, but in 2011, I entered the renewable energy market as a general counsel for a renewable energy company. During that time, I gained valuable experience in the industry, which inspired me to lead Sunly when the opportunity arose.

The founders, initial team, and investors of Sunly are renewable energy pioneers in the Baltic region. We saw a need for communities to transition from traditional energy production to renewable energy, so we started developing solar, wind, and storage projects to meet that demand.

Could you explain to us what Sunly does, in a nutshell?
Sunly is a renewable energy developer specializing in solar, wind, and storage. As an Independent Power Producer (IPP), we primarily build and operate renewable energy assets. We also provide engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services and operations and maintenance for other renewable energy companies.

In addition, we invest 5% of our capital in energy transition startups, believing that the leading companies of the 2030s may not have been established yet.

Founded only in 2019, you seem to be growing at meteoric speed. Sunly has raised large amounts not only for its own growth, but also to invest into cleantech startups, hardware no less. What has been the key in getting all the parts moving so quickly?
Our success comes from having a dedicated team and supportive investors who believe in our holistic approach. We’ve been able to raise funds for growth and invest in cleantech startups without affecting our investors’ risk-weighting on their investments. Our capital raises have consistently led to significant growth.

In terms of startup investments, what funds are currently investing, and what are you looking for in startups (founders, geography, sub-niches)?
We focus on Energy Transition startups with founders deeply connected to the sector, primarily in the Baltics and Poland. For DeepTech CleanTech, having a grant pipeline is becoming essential for delivering breakthrough technologies.

How do you assess the cleantech startup ecosystem in the Baltics / CEE?
The ecosystem is expanding and becoming more collaborative. However, it needs more urgency, creativity, and flexibility at the investor level, as companies can take various forms, unlike typical IT startups.

Structurally, is there anything lacking or that could be improved to facilitate innovation, deeptech/hardware startups and rollout of green energy?
Credit facilities from banks or governments for early-stage hardware-led GreenTech startups are lacking. Loans with low interest rates and government backing for loan providers would help companies grow out of the “valley of death” and repay loans at maturity.

What advice would you give to cleantech startup founders focusing on hardware looking to raise in 2023?
Develop a product that meets market needs, find partners to finance development, and leverage grant pipelines for equity fundraising. Despite the challenges, it’s an excellent time to build GreenTech and Hardware startups, as more funding becomes available.

With Europe’s energy dependence and the current global climate, what do you think are the most pressing next steps to tackle?
Energy storage is crucial for accommodating the influx of renewable energy. Large commercial banks and governments need to support funding for large-scale storage projects. Moreover, more investors should be willing to assume construction risk for new technologies.

What is lined up for Sunly in the next 12 months?
We’ll focus on organizational growth, doubling our team, and making structural changes to prepare for future challenges. We’ll continue developing renewable energy projects in four countries, constructing new projects, and investing in startups.

What’s the best way for people to stay updated with the latest from you?
To stay updated with Sunly, follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, or visit our website at You can also find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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