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VDE Americas celebrated its 10th anniversary with skyline views of San Francisco.


VDE Americas sails into its second decade

Joined by Ansgar Hinz, CEO of VDE, the VDE Americas team celebrated its 10th Anniversary aboard a 24-meter sailboat on the San Francisco Bay.

In May 2013, Burkhardt Holder and Jonas Brückner teamed up with John Sedgwick and Peter Bostock to found VDE Americas. At the time, Germany was the single largest solar market in the world. Today, cumulative installed solar capacity in the United States is roughly double that in Germany—thanks in no small part to VDE Americas’ technical advisory services.

VDE Americas provides technical due diligence and risk mitigation services to financiers, project developers, and insurance companies working on large solar and energy storage transactions. Utility-scale applications represent the lion’s share of the market for photovoltaic (PV) power systems and battery energy storage systems (BESS) in the US. The growing team at VDE Americas supports these markets with owner’s engineering (OE), independent engineering (IE), and award-winning hail risk advisory services.

Since 2016, the expert team at VDE Americas has supported funding for over 5 GW of operating solar projects in the US—roughly 10% of the utility-scale PV project capacity installed over that period. Reflecting the increasing importance of short-duration energy storage, the team is supporting more than 3 GW of BESS capacity scheduled for deployment in 2023 and 2024. Buoyed by the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, VDE Americas’ market potential is expected to quadruple over the next decade.

To mark its first decade, VDE Americas hosted board meetings and team-building activities in San Francisco over the first week in May. Special events included a tour of the testing laboratory facilities at RETC (Renewable Energy Test Center), a majority-owned subsidiary of VDE, in Fremont, California. Later that evening, an intrepid international delegation—including Katja Münzer, VDE’s manager of international business development, and Jonka Gut, head of group controlling—attended a San Francisco Giants baseball game at Oracle Park.

The highlight of the week’s activities took place on the San Francisco Bay. John Sedgwick, president of VDE Americas, is a lifetime resident of the South Bay, an aeronautical engineer by education, and an avid sailor. After a German colleague noted that a Sail GP event was scheduled the same week as the board meetings for VDE’s North American business units, Sedgwick launched a plan to charter a sailboat to host VDE Americas’ 10th Anniversary party. 

Sailing Montage

Early Saturday afternoon, some two dozen coworkers, family members, and international colleagues boarded the 24-meter scow schooner Gas Light, named after the natural gas lanterns that illuminated San Francisco some 150 years ago. Constructed in 1990, Gas Light is a modern steel-hulled replica of a three-mast, flat-bottomed sailboat by the same name that transported goods across the Bay and up and down the Sacramento River in the late 1800s. Keeping with tradition, the sailboat’s rigging is entirely manual, with no winches or modern devices to help raise the sails.

Departing from a dock adjacent to the baseball stadium, Gas Light provided her guests with panoramic views of the City by the Bay, Alcatraz Island, Marin Headlands, and the Golden Gate Bridge. After watching the Australian team take the first heat in Sail GP, crew members invited passengers to help hoist the ship’s three huge sails. After pulling together, VDE Americas and its international colleagues charted a course into the future with the wind in their sails, united in the belief that the group’s work enables a safer and more sustainable world.

—An edited version of this article originally appeared in the Q3 edition of VDE dialog.

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