Adding to Scotland’s power play
A new name on Scotland’s corporate register will not just add to the stock of recently-formed companies, it marks the creation of a potential powerhouse.
Ventient Energy, which boasts the title of third largest generator of onshore wind energy in the UK, will be run from inconspicuous offices in the midst of Edinburgh’s shopping centre.
It looks like small beginnings for the company but it plans to make a bigger name for itself in the months and years to come.
Scott Mackenzie, CEO, had been running Infinis when institutional investors backed a deal to bolt its 19 wind farms together with Zephyr’s 15 to create the new company.
JP Morgan Asset Management advised on the deal which was unveiled earlier this year and has now completed.
Mackenzie sees opportunities ahead for the energy newcomer. “What has really changed is that the back offices have been brought together and we have been busy building the team with engineers and analysts.
“We are now third biggest in onshore wind behind ScottishPower and SSE with a 6% market share and we’re now looking to grow across Europe.”
He won’t reveal any targets, saying: “If we see the right opportunity in the right location we will be interested, but we have a job to do with this new business and we won’t be getting distracted by acquisitions right now.”
The company’s growth will be supported by bank finance and the support of its investors without the need to seek external funding, he says.
“There are definitely no plans for an IPO. We are well backed by our investors,” he says.
Mackenzie worked his way up the ladder after training as an apprentice with the long-gone chemicals company Ciba in Paisley.
“It was a big plant but it’s no longer there,” he says, reflecting on 16 years spent in the sector. The plant was acquired by BASF which closed it in 2015, switching the jobs to Korea.
After a stint with BNFL, Mackenzie made the move into renewables with Natural Power in Dumfries & Galloway.
“The industry has taken off in recent years and has certainly blossomed from when I started,” he says, noting that growth is being helped by finding new ways of producing cheaper energy.
Ventient’s 34 farms are located from Caithness to Cornwall, comprising 507 turbines and 690MW of installed capacity. It supplies the equivalent of 420,000 homes annually, offsetting 0.75 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year.
Approximately two-thirds of Ventient Energy’s power is generated in Scotland and with the top three UK onshore wind portfolios all headquartered in Scotland it demonstrates the economic value of the industry to Scotland.
Ventient has created 22 jobs in the past six months and now employs 44 staff, 31 of these in Edinburgh, at the company’s headquarters in Frederick Street.
Mackenzie admits that if it gets much larger it may have to consider relocating.
“We are excited to introduce Ventient Energy, now a major player in onshore wind energy. We are the largest non-utility owner of onshore wind in Britain.
“We are ambitious – committed to creating prosperity through safe and sustainable generation of renewable sourced electricity, through quality job creation and supporting the communities in which we operate.
“The UK onshore wind market is fragmented, and Ventient Energy owns only 6% of market capacity at present, so we see plenty of opportunities to grow our installed capacity through consolidation.”
Birthplace: East Kilbride
Education: apprenticed to Ciba in Paisley; Caledonian University (electrical power engineering)
Career Highlights: Ciba; BNF, Natural Power, Infinis, Ventient Energy
If you could organise a meeting with three people from the past or present who would you choose?
Neil Armstrong, as I’m fascinated by the Apollo missions
Kenny Dalglish, who was a big name when I was growing up and came to represent the nation
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, again because I am fascinated by what he achieved and it would be interesting to hear from someone of that era