In the spotlight: Conor Grogan
Sulus Solar is a development company located out of Portland, Oregon and was set up in 2017 by Conor Grogan, Co-Founder & Director of Sulus Solar, and his fellow Irishman Colin Murphy.
Conor’s education is in Mechanical Engineering, where he found his first exposure into the renewable energy space in a thesis in Urban Wind Energy Applications. That spurred him to do a Master of Science in Sustainable Energy Engineering at Queen Mary University of London. This course was in its second year of offering and was one of very few renewable energy specific courses available in Europe at the time.
Conor found an opportunity in London to do a three-month internship in Seville, Spain, as part of the Leonardo da Vinci program. There he joined Isotrol, a remote monitoring platform with presence in Spain and Italy. The platform’s software monitored solar and wind projects and informed asset owners as to project performance, sending out alarms upon system failures so that Operations and Maintenance Teams could minimize downtime. As a bilingual in English and Spanish; Conor specialized in promoting the software to English clients.
He then made the shift across town to Quintas Energy. Also Headquartered in Seville, Quintas Energy is one of the largest Asset Management companies in Europe. At the time they were interested in developing projects in the burgeoning English market and Conor was brought in to lead. After 2 years in sunny Spain, Conor moved to the cooler climes of Brighton where he joined up-and-coming OST Energy, a Technical Advisory company started by ex-Mott MacDonald Engineers. There, Conor learned how to do Due Diligence on projects, portfolios and equipment for investors and banks financing activities in the UK Market. Conor learned a lot there: entrepreneurship and team building from the founders, project financing, solar engineering and enjoyed travelling a lot to visit sites around Europe and factories in China. He then moved back to Ireland where he joined BNRG Renewables, one of Europe’s leading developers. It was there that Conor first encountered project development and personally oversaw the late-stage development and construction of over £30 Million pounds worth of projects in the south of England.
During this time, Conor completed a Master of Science in Renewable Energy Finance, aiming to equip himself with a well-rounded view on how to materialize projects from a development and funding perspective.
It was there that he met Colin Murphy, a fellow Engineer specializing in project finance in a London-based private equity firm. Together they moved to Portland in 2017 to set up Sulus Solar with Oregon’s aggressive 50% by 2040 Renewable Portfolio Standard in mind. They decided to focus on early-stage development, not a typical move for newcomers to the country. PURPA projects in the Portland General Electric territory was their first business strategy, and they successfully exited their first portfolio within 48 months of starting business, selling to Enerparc Solar based in California (now Adapture Renewables).
They were buoyed by the incoming Oregon Community Solar program and adapted their next PURPA designed projects to be eligible for the first offering of the scheme. Their second portfolio was a mix of PURPA and the first ever Community Solar projects in the state, which they exited in 2020. Their third portfolio was a primarily Community Solar offering, some of which were the first ever projects to get permitting in their respective counties. This portfolio was sold to Solriver, a very successful developer based in Denver, Colorado.
Conor is proud to have successfully transferred his experience in Europe to the U.S. market. Sulus Solar has a track record of developing and facilitating over $100 million worth of projects either in operation or very soon to be as of time of publishing. Conor and his team intend to continue this upward trajectory and have spent much of 2022 restructuring the business to allow for a far more considerable funding quantum to be invested in the U.S. solar market over the next 5-10 years.
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