Ivan Vekirchyk,
co-founder of KNESS Group
Keep the balance: How to achieve a positive energy balance for company
In the fall of 2018, the KNESS Group has achieved positive energy balance: this means the group of companies has been generating more energy than consuming. Would you please tell about your way to this achievement. When did this idea appear, how long have you been moving towards this goal?

All changes took place gradually. While studying at the Kyiv-Mohyla Business School, we encountered their slogan: «Change yourself. Change your company. Change the world». And I always joke – we started with the end – at first we were busy with an idea of changing of the world, and later began to change ourselves and the company. Talking about the positive energy balance – we initially helped investors to change the energy balance of the country, and then it became clear for us that the best example for a modern company is the positive energy balance of the company itself! And today we are proud that the KNESS Group is not only the manufacturer of all equipment for the PVPP, the largest developer of projects, but also a company that by its own example indicates the way to preserve the ecology of the planet.

Can we speak by figures: what does the KNESS Group look like now in terms of energy consumption and energy production?

It is quite easy to make mistakes when it comes to figures, because each day changes the situation for the better, and we have already exceeded the indicators of electricity generation of 2018. As a reference point, I can provide you with the following information: in 2019 we plan to use 6 000 MW*g and produce at least 38 289 MW*g. That is 6 times more! But I'm sure that when we will see the actual figure at the end of the year – it will be even bigger!

Perhaps it was easier for you to achieve a positive energy balance than it was for other companies, because the essence of KNESS Group's business is the generation of renewable energy. But how other modern Ukrainian companies working in the IT sphere, agribusiness, and other industries can reach this goal?

I agree that changing the most important thing – consciousness – was easier for us, but now the implementation depends on each individually. Here is a simple algorithm. Evaluate the environmental conditions that you want your children to live in and understand that renewable energy is one of the easiest and most effective methods to stop global warming. Evaluate your desire to become an investor with a sufficiently high return (higher than in the bank) and have a liquid asset with minimal effort. Evaluate your desire to have a source of energy and do not depend on the supplier's monopoly.
If at least one of these points is interesting for you, depending on the purpose (private household, roofs and farmland, joint investment or you just can invest) – find a partner company and start. The KNESS Group will always help you to identify the most attractive option and implement it, and our financial partners could, if necessary, help you with investments. I cannot help to mention the opportunities provided by our one of the most powerful partners – «Ukrgasbank».
Apart from the fact that they are the largest of all aimed at providing loans for renewable energy, they have also done an important job – the register of accredited contractors for the installation of renewable sources of generation. And trust me, checking partners with the Bank's security service gives the highest guarantee that the company will fulfill all terms of the contract. We are proud that KNESS is the first company to receive this accreditation!

We know that achieving of positive energy balance has already become must-have for the world's leading companies, and more and more global business leaders are reporting about their way to a positive energy balance and achievement on this path. Why is this so important for modern companies?

The world is changing. Entrepreneurs understand that business is not only for generating revenue, but also for creating an environment for future existence. In developed countries effective entrepreneurs are able to plan their lives for 10- 20 years. This is the understanding of the majority population of these countries! Moreover, the availability of renewable sources greatly affects the market value of global companies! Unfortunately, not in all post-Soviet countries people have information and time to look more than 5 years in advance. And the KNESS team is proud to be tangent to a change in the minds of people that we can help the country to be modern and energy independent.

What changes in the company when it understands the fact it gives away more energy than uses? Is this just a good news for a PR department or maybe something else?

Probably every person wants to be a part of something big and positive. Being an energy-generating company, moreover, being one of the first Ukrainian company achieved positive energy balance – it has a powerful emotional effect. It is very pleasant when every KNESS employee to the question: «What are you doing good for people and the world?» can proudly answer: «We are energy-generating, we produce renewable energy more than we consume, we care about the future of Ukraine and the world» and then add: «Yet we will receive a good salary, we work in modern premises and pay the state a lot of taxes». In my opinion – it's worth a lot.

Theoretically – is it possible for a company to achieve a positive energy balance through the
so-called «traditional» energy generation technologies?

Physically – yes. Even not talking of ecology – from economical point such variant is absolutely unprofitable. And in order to see that, it is not necessary to be an expert. Because of the economy there are still no «traditional» sources of energy generation at each enterprise. Business can count funds. Renewable energy changes this balance.

Why is this trend, popular on the world level, especially important for Ukraine and Ukrainian businesses? How can energy independence within individual companies change the country's energy independence?

Great things started from small ones. Successful companies more capable of introducing changes, so they can be a driving force in the state. And the energy independence of each creates the energy independence of all. Only together we can achieve our goals. This is important in order to overcome the monopoly of well-known players in the energy market and it is crucial to overcome the dependence on the energy that we are forced to buy from an aggressor state. In simple words, this is a great step towards freedom and self-identification of Ukraine and Ukrainians.

The KNESS Group has already achieved a positive energy balance. Is this the end of the path or group is going to overcome new challenges and move further toward the future? Is it possible to set new standards in the energy balance? Can you tell more about the KNESS Group's plans?

This is just the beginning of the path. After all, the target for us is to achieve 100% renewable energy in Ukraine. Energy balance should not be based on the difference between the production of renewable energy and the consumption of traditional one, but the difference between the production of renewable energy and consumption of renewable energy. To make it happen, it is necessary to increase the pace of renewable energy projects implementation. As even to construct 1 GW of capacity per year (exactly what Ukraine is approaching), it will take more than 50 years – without taking into account the development of electricity consumption! KNESS team works hard in this direction and makes every effort to change the consciousness and responsibility of people, businesses and to provide modern, efficient services in the field of renewable energy, including launching our own Ukrainian production.