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Student Registration Number: 0892684 0889025

- Case Study
Renewable Energy Corporation (REC) Group

Hand-in date: 11.05.2011

Campus: BI Oslo

Exam code and name: GRA 3158 Leadership and Strategies

Program: Master of Science in Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Contents

Case _________________________________________________________1-8

References_____________________________________________________9 Exhibit 1: Total Annual Revenue and Earnings (2003 2009)____________10

Exhibit 2: Stock market performance (9 May, 2006 to 11 April, 2011)______10

Exhibit 3: REC Group Timeline _____________________________________11

Exhibit 4: REC value chain _________________________________________12 Exhibit 5: World marketed energy use (by fuel type), 1980 2030___________12

Exhibit 6: Effects of incentives in major markets on PV shipments ___________13

Exhibit 7: Active residential installers (by share), MW basis ________________13 Exhibit 8: eSolars Sierra Sun Tower, California __________________________14

Appendix-1: REC Business System (RBS) _______________________________15

GRA3158 Leadership and Strategies

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After a difficult year in 2009 caused by the slow market growth since the financial crisis of 2008 and restructuring hampering its operations, Renewable Energy Corporation (REC) Group had posted earnings of more than NOK 1 billion in 2010. With revenues rising every year and a strong market growth in 2010, REC was looking into the future with optimism. The solar market is on a strong long-term growth trend, with continued room to build and create value for our shareholders, said CEO and President, Mr. Ole Enger 1. REC had officially inaugurated its largest production facility in Singapore and completed the expansion of its polysilicon production facilities in the USA in 2010. What implications would these have on the leadership strategies in REC?

Industry background World energy prices increased rapidly from 2003 to 2008, fuelled mostly by the increment in fossil fuel prices. This rapid increase in cost combined with concerns for climate change renewed interests in the renewable energy sources. The Solar Energy Handbook 2 predicted that the share of renewable energy for electricity generation would increase from 2.5% in 2008 to 20% in 2030 (see exhibit 5).

Harnessing of solar energy had been done for centuries. As early as 7th century BC, magnifying glasses were used to concentrate sunlight to make fire. However, it was only in 1839 that the photovoltaic effect was discovered by a French scientist Edmond Becquerel which demonstrated that electricity generation in an electrolytic cell increased when exposed to light. In 1883, Charles Fritt, an American inventor described the first solar cells made from selenium wafers and in 1921, Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize for his research on the photoelectric effect. There were more developments for years to come but it was only in

1 2

All the statements from Mr. Enger were taken from RECs annual reports. Vishal Shah. Solar Energy Handbook. Barclays Capital, New York, May 01, 2009. P. 3

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1954 that the first silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells were discovered in the Bell Labs which were capable of producing enough electricity from sun light to run every-day electrical equipment. However, the first practical PV modules were produced by Sharp Corporation in 1963 and in the same year a 242 watt PV array was installed on a lighthouse in Japan. In 1964, NASA launched the first satellite powered by a 470 W PV array, the Nimbus.

The solar industry had a five staged value chain. First stage was the production of solar-grade polysilicon. The availability and price of the polysilicon was a prime factor in cost effectiveness of solar systems. The process was very complex and there were only a handful of quality producers in the world including REC. The second stage consisted of producing wafers from the polysilicon and the third entailed the production of solar cells. The fourth stage consisted of creating the modules by electronically connecting an array of cells. In the fifth stage, the cell manufacturers functioned as system integrator; designing and building solar energy systems for the end users (residential and commercial buildings, and industries).

By the end of 2009 the total global solar PV capacity was 20 GW with a growth of 44% as compared to 2008. However there were huge challenges for the solar industry moving forward. The biggest challenge was of cost competitiveness. In spite of years of technological progress and development, solar energy was still more expensive to produce than other traditional energy sources. There were promotion and support schemes in many countries, mainly from the ones in Europe, like the feed-in tariff3 rates and quotas which helped solar energy to compete. Sharp increment in shipment of PV systems after announcement of major incentive packages pointed to this fact (see exhibit 6). However, the sketchy economic

Price premium offered for electricity produced from renewable energy sources based on supply.

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conditions at the time meant that the support systems were not guaranteed. Moreover, solar energy had to compete with other renewable sources of energy.

Company Background The seed for REC Group was sown in 1994 with the establishment of Scanwafer AS. The founders Reidar Langmo and Alf Bjrseth believed that multi-crystalline wafers would become the leading technology in an industry about to accelerate and so started the production of solar wafers in an ammoniac production facility which had shut down in Glomford, northern Norway. The REC group however had its humble beginning as Fornybar Energi AS in 1996. The first solar wafers were produced in 1997 and the founders were at the Glomford plant washing them by hand. By 1999 the wafer demand exceeded supply fuelled by the signing of large contracts and the same year REC was officially established. Expansions began to take place and a second plant was established in Glomford in 2001 making REC the worlds largest producer of multi-crystalline wafer then. In 2002, REC invested in silicon production plant in Moses Lake, Washington, USA and the same year ScanCell AS and ScanModule AB started production making REC the most vertically integrated solar company in the world.

In 2005, the founder Alf Bjrseth pulled out. With Erik Thorsen as the CEO, REC went public in May, 2006 valued at NOK 55 billion. In 2010, REC officially opened its largest integrated manufacturing plant in Singapore producing wafers, cells and modules, and completed the expansion of its polysilicon and silane gas production plants in Moses Lake, Washington, USA (see exhibit 3). By 2010, REC was the second largest active residential system installer in the world (8% market share) and one of the largest suppliers of polysilicon.

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Technology, Products and Operations REC Group was the most integrated solar energy company in the world present across the complete value chain. REC Group was divided in to three operational groups, namely REC Silicon, REC Wafer and REC Solar employing more than 3000 employees worldwide. REC Silicon produced solar and electronic grade silicon in its three wholly owned units: REC Silicon Inc., REC Solar Grade Silicon LLC, and REC Advanced Silicon Materials LLC. In 2010, REC Silicon produced 13,673 MT of Siemens4 and granular polysilicon, an increment of 75% from 2009. REC Wafer consisted of REC Wafer Pte. Ltd. and, produced mono and multi-crystalline wafers from its units in Glomford and Herya, Norway and Sinagpore. The wafers produced in Singapore were used only for meeting internal demand. REC Wafer produced solar wafers to the effect of 1,210 MW in 2010. Finally, REC Solar which comprised of REC Scancell AS, REC Cells Pte. Ltd, REC modules Pte. Ltd. produced downstream solar products for the end-user market. The polysilicon and silane gas produced by REC Silicon were not only used for wafer production by REC Wafer but also sold to external buyers. The same applied to wafers and cells. (see exhibit 3)

RECs solar technology was based on polysilicon. It used polysilion to produce wafers which were then used to produce solar cells and modules. Technological innovation had been at the heart of RECs effort to make solar energy more efficient and cost competitive. REC had been a highly innovative company with large focus on R&D and spent NOK 290 million on R&D in 2010 alone. REC Group had 35 patents granted and 200 patents pending as of 2010. REC was able to reduce the production cost per watt of a solar module by 36% compared to the cost in 2005 and had targeted to achieve 50% reduction by 2011. RECs proprietary technology for polysilicon production called the Fluidized Bed Reactor (FBR) reduced energy

Polysilicon produced by using the Siemens reactor process.

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consumption in the deposition of silane gas by more than 80% compared to the industry standard siemens reactor process. Implementation of FBR was expected to reduce the production cost of polysilicon in 2011 by 26% compared to the cost in 2010.

Financials REC Group was one of the largest players in the world solar energy market in 2010 with annual revenue of NOK 13.77 Billion. Its annual revenue had been growing steadily over the years; its 2010 revenue was 56% higher than that in 2009. However, RECs earnings had not followed suit. It was due to decreasing margins caused by decreasing prices of solar technology and increasing price of raw materials. This was due to increase in competition in the solar energy market with many new players coming in, most of them either based in China or having manufacturing base in China. Also, the euphoria surrounding the alternative energy sector in late 2000s had given way to more realistic expectations keeping the premium levels in check. Moreover, the price of petroleum fuels had steadied after soaring in the late nineties. In 2010, RECs average selling prices for the modules declined by 17% from that in 2009, for wafers by 30% and that for polysilicon by 13%. So, even with strong market growth, REC was not able to generate high earnings (see exhibit 1).

RECs stock market performance had been nothing short of a roller coaster ride. RECs shares opened at NOK 85.51 per share when it went public in May 09, 2006. It reached its highest point on Nov 08, 2007 closing at an astounding NOK 220 per share with a high of 224.02 making REC Norways largest privately owned company for a brief period overtaking the Orkla Group. However these valuations were not realistic and fuelled by the euphoria surrounding the alternative energy stemming from the announcements made by many governments to provide incentives for alternative energy to combat climate change and growing oil prices. So, as the euphoria subdued and the global financial crisis hit in 2008, Page 5

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RECs stock prices tumbled too and decreased gradually thereafter (see exhibit 2). On May 09, 2011, it closed at NOK 17.03 per share.

Challenges The biggest challenge for REC Group was similar to that faced by whole alternative energy sector. How the cost of renewable energy could be brought in par with the cost of energy from non-renewable sources, mainly petroleum and coal. Although the basis for solar energy was laid a long time ago, it was still a young industry with respect to traditional energy sector. Thus there was still a dominant technology to emerge. Technology based on polysilicon had been widely used but there were new alternatives emerging. Two emerging technologies of particular interest were the use of Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) instead of polysilicon for manufacturing solar cells employed by First Solar, and the mirror technology used by esolar (see exhibit 8). These technologies provided cheaper alternatives to RECs, at least in terms of initial costs. CdTe provided alternative raw material to polysilicon which was expensive. eSolar opted for use of mirrors to reflect sunlight to a point on a tower where the resulting heat was used to heat water and then the resulting steam used to drive turbine producing electricity. Technologies based on other energy sources, mainly wind posed great challenge.

Leadership and Strategy REC was born out of Alf Bjrseths vision but moving forward it evolved into a collectively led organization. REC had a network of leaders approach to leadership as opposed to dominant individual leadership. Alf Bjrseth departed in 2005and Erik Thorsen became the CEO and oversaw RECs listing on the Oslo stock exchange. After a difficult year in 2008 and 2009, Thorsen was replaced by Ole Enger in 2009. Throughout the terms of these leaders, REC had continued to focus on cost reduction through operational efficiency and technological innovations. REC had continued to integrate vertically across the value chain Page 6

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making it less vulnerable to supply chain volatility, facilitating quality control and lowering production costs. At the same time, REC decentralized its operations by reorganizing its business into three segments thus facilitating narrower focus and higher specialization. REC had thus focused on delegation of authority which spread the responsibility and authority across a group of leaders instead of a single dominant leader. The capacity expansions initiated in 2006 had carried on, a continuation of RECs policy of cost-effectiveness through industrialization mentioned in various annual reports since 2004. By 2010, REC had implemented its complete operation management system called the REC Business System (RBS) (see appendix 1)in some plants and was preparing to implement it throughout the organization. The RBS methodology is the way we are going to work to succeed with our ambition of being the preferred solar partner for our customers and keeping a competitive edge in this industry. Building and strengthening the local organizations is key, as we want decisions to be made as close to the line as possible, informed Mr. Enger.

RECs leadership showed traits of ambidextrous leadership with efforts on balancing between exploitation and exploration. The founders had realized the importance of exploiting the market to keep the revenue flowing. The first wafers at REC were produced in 1997 and by 1999 demand had exceeded supply. REC was present across the value chain and performed external sales across each step (see exhibit 4). For example, polysilicon produced by REC Silicon was not only used to produce wafers by REC Wafers but also sold to other solar energy and electronic companies. At the same time, focus was on exploration too. Realizing the importance of cost competitiveness, huge R&D investments were made to develop cost effective and efficient technologies. REC had spent NOK 807 million in R&D from 2008 to 2010. REC had developed its own proprietary polysilicon production process, FBR and implemented it across more than half of its production facilities by 2010.

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REC Group had been successful in positioning itself as one of the most successful companies in an emerging sector by focusing on technological innovation and operational efficiency. REC had differentiated itself from the competition by being the most vertically integrated solar company in the world. RECs strategy for cost competitiveness focused on increasing efficiency and life of its modules. Our module was recognized as a top performer by Photon magazines independent comparative field study and the REC Peak Energy module won the Solar Industry Award for Module Manufacturing Innovation given by industry leaders beamed Mr. Enger. While most of its competitors were either based in China or had set up manufacturing base in China, REC opted to set up its largest unit in Singapore, relatively smaller and more expensive destination but one known for the superior quality of its products.

Final Thoughts REC was increasing its revenue every year but the income had not followed the same pattern. Thus, REC had expanded internationally to be more cost competitive. There was no doubt that its unit in Singapore would help it reduce the price of its module significantly as was the case with its polysilicon production unit in the USA. However, REC was an international company with strong Norwegian roots and most of its operation took place in Norway. Through RBS, REC intended to delegate more authority to local plants with a view of facilitating quick decision making. Few plants where RBS was implemented had shown good promise but these were based in Norway. In Norway, the hierarchical structure was more horizontal thus it would have been more of an extension of the common practice. However, in the USA and more in Asia, the hierarchical structure was known to be more vertical. Influence flow was perceived to be largely unidirectional, from top to bottom and trust restricted resulting in tighter controls. Would RBS help REC to achieve its goal of creating one seamless organization by influencing the working culture in its foreign operations?

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Huemer, L. Kvlshaugen R (2011 wip). The influence paradox in leadership: The source of ambidextrous leadership. Paper presented at the 4th 'Strategic Management in Latin America' conference in Bogota, Colombia, January 13-14, 2011, and submitted to the 11th EURAM conference in Tallinn, Estonia, June 1-4, 2011.

Kriger, Mark P. Leadership for an Increasingly Turbulent World: Networks, Hierarchies and Stars. Oslo, January, 2011. For submission to the Leadership Quarterly. Kriger, Mark P., and Louis B. Barnes, The Hidden Side of Organizational Leadership. Sloan Management Review 15, 1996. Veitor, Richard K., Suntech Power. Harvard Business Review 9-710-013. Harvard Business School, Apr 5, 2011. Renewable Energy Corporation Group (REC). Annual Reports (2003 2010). Oslo.

Renewable Energy Corporation Group (REC). Investor Presentation. Oslo, March, 2011.

Office of Integrated Analysis and Forecasting, U.S. Department of Energy. International Energy Outlook 2009. Washington DC, May, 2009.

Vishal Shah. Solar Energy Handbook. Barclays Capital, New York, May 01, 2009.

US Department of Energy. The History of Solar. Washington DC, March 01, 2004.

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Exhibit 1: Total Annual Revenue and Earnings (2003 2009)


16,000 14,000 12,000 10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000 0 -2,000 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

Revenues (NOK in Million)

EBIT (NOK in Million)

2002 Revenues (NOK in Million) EBIT (NOK in Million) 432 -104

2003 713 -162

2004 1,270 40

2005 2,454 601

2006 4,334 1,574

2007 6,642 2,588

2008 8,191 2,529

2009 8,831 -829

2010 13,776 1,018

Exhibit 2: Stock market performance (9 May, 2006 to 11 April, 2011)


250.00 200.00 150.00 100.00 50.00 0.00 09.05.06 09.08.06 09.11.06 09.02.07 09.05.07 09.08.07 09.11.07 09.02.08 09.05.08 09.08.08 09.11.08 09.02.09 09.05.09 09.08.09 09.11.09 09.02.10 09.05.10 09.08.10 09.11.10 09.02.11

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Exhibit 3: REC Group Timeline

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Exhibit 4: REC value chain

Exhibit 5: World marketed energy use (by fuel type), 1980 2030

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Exhibit 6: Effects of incentives in major markets on PV shipments

Exhibit 7: Active residential installers (by share), MW basis

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Exhibit 8: eSolars Sierra Sun Tower, California

Source: http://www.esolar.com/news/press_photos.html

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Appendix-1: REC Business System (RBS) REC Business System (RBS) was a proprietary business management system developed and implemented by REC. RBS was inspired by the lean manufacturing practices of companies like Toyota. RBS aimed at optimal resources optimization for achieving stability and continuous improvements in the organization ensuring perfect operation and zero defects, thus achieving customer satisfaction. RBS encouraged cross-functional collaboration and implementation of process improvements. It aimed at breaking down organizational barriers for effective problem solving. RBS was a complete management system covering not only normal operational issues but addressing the issues of sustainability, health, security and environment based on the principles of REC, RECID (Responsibility, Enthusiasm, Commitment, Innovation, Drive). With the deployment of RBS, REC aimed at strengthening local organizations to ensure decisions could be made as close to the line as possible.

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