The energy transition has costs, but it is associated with huge opportunities

Átomo Capital Partners has become a significant player in the renewable energy and sustainability sector. Born with the ambition to contribute to the decarbonization of the economy, it is now a company made up of a multidisciplinary team that assists throughout the development process up to the ‘ready to build’ stage.

In an interview with PME Magazine, Miguel Subtil, the managing director of ÁTOMO Capital Partners, discusses the projects the company has implemented and how they can help SMEs in Portugal.

PME Magazine – What was the objective behind creating ÁTOMO Capital Partners?

Miguel Subtil – It was created with the aim of actively participating in the energy transition and sustainable development process. Companies must have a purpose, a design. We believe there doesn’t have to be a trade-off between having a positive societal impact versus financial return. The biggest challenge we face as a global community is understanding how we can continue to improve our living conditions on a planet with finite resources, a quickly growing global population, and a climate emergency. Our purpose and mission were clear, which we materialize into four business areas – Utility Scale (large energy production projects), Energy as a Service (dedicated to self-consumption and energy communities), Electric Mobility and Real Estate Sustainability.

PME Magazine – What projects have you implemented and what investments have you made in the renewable energy and sustainability sector?

M.S. – The major renewable energy production projects (Utility Scale) that we have developed with investors and independent power producers (IPP) are the most representative because of their size. This area continues to be the most significant in our business volume, primarily because it was the first we started, even before the first solar auctions in 2019, and which subsequently saw significant development. We act as developers of these major projects (solar, wind, hybrid, and hydrogen), integrating all necessary services up to the ‘ready to build’ (RtB) phase, dealing and negotiating with all necessary entities, and obtaining all licenses.

On the other hand, this market is currently in a phase where opportunities for grid access are scarcer, enhancing M&A operations. We have also been sought after to support these processes, especially with DD Technical, Environmental, and Licensing. Besides, we are very committed to the self-consumption and energy communities sector. It is essential that decentralized electricity production becomes widespread, even without investment from customers, which can be our responsibility. Maximizing solar potential near consumption points, with very competitive tariff values, and significant gains for our clients contributes to the electrification of the economy but also to the increased competitiveness of Portuguese companies.

PME Magazine – Why also bet on electric mobility and new technologies?

M.S. – In the field of electric mobility, we are launching the operation. We are charging station operators (OPC) and are in a phase where we are witnessing a rapid adoption phenomenon of electric vehicles by the population. Estimates vary, but it is predicted that, on average, in Portugal, about 30-40% of the new vehicles registered in 2030 will be electric. This is a massive revolution. We completely change the way we use our vehicles and how we equip them with energy to move, we change our habits, and we must adapt the infrastructure to face this new reality. Many charging stations will have to be installed to accommodate this growth in electric vehicles, and public charging will play a crucial role since, with the expected massification, not everyone will be able to charge the EV at home or in the office.

We are currently negotiating with investors to quickly scale up the business and, on the other hand, with owners, real estate investors, promoters, and public entities to obtain a pipeline of locations that boost the growth we project. We are also very attentive to new technologies in the storage area. Efficient storage is essential for the stability of the electrical system, and many technologies are being tested that we are interested in deepening.

PME Magazine – How does ÁTOMO Capital Partners support SMEs in Portugal?

M.S. – This is a crucial point in our strategy, central to our purpose of contributing to the decarbonization of the economy, increasing the competitiveness of companies. Energy costs and adapting to a new energy paradigm are essential for SMEs to face future challenges more competitively. Currently, energy production using solar technology, for example, is the cheapest way to obtain the electricity needed for company operations. It’s a unique opportunity to anticipate a transition that’s here to stay and start reducing costs as soon as possible. Often, company financial management is directed towards its core business, with little availability to invest in renewable solutions, even with a financial return. In these cases, the investment can also be on us, with companies benefiting without investment costs.

What we do is design a solution according to company needs, implementing, building, and operating the plants without any investment cost for our clients, who will benefit from reduced energy costs, also contributing to the decarbonization of the economy. On the other hand, it is also possible to design energy communities by extending these benefits to other nearby companies and entities, optimizing the sizing of these systems. Átomo positions itself as a fundamental partner for increasing SME competitiveness without them having to seek support or subsidies that always delay, delaying decisions, with evident opportunity costs.

PME Magazine – What is the balance of the company’s three years of activity?

M.S. – We make a very positive balance. We have developed more than 900MW of projects, which will amount to about 600 million euros of associated investment. Clearly, the company’s ambitious and uninstalled DNA never allows us to be satisfied, not even when the objectives are widely exceeded. Things have been going very well, and the company’s positioning has been appropriate to the climate transition we are experiencing. Uncertainty always generates opportunities, but the important thing is to have the necessary knowledge to take advantage of them and make our clients and partners benefit from it. We are in a transition time, and many paradigms are changing, generating risks that many did not consider and others did not expect to incorporate. In this context, immobility seems much riskier than structuring this change appropriately. The energy and climate transition has costs, of course, but they are associated with enormous opportunities. In this sense, we always want more and will try to take good advantage of them.

PME Magazine – Is internationalization part of ÁTOMO’s future prospects?

M.S. – Yes, clearly! This is a moment of global transition, with identical challenges and opportunities in all countries. We closely follow both technological development and global regulatory changes, which, with the experience and capacity we have, put us in an excellent position in this sector in various geographies.


Interview with Miguel Subtil, published in PME Magazine on September 19th, 2023.