Transelectrica announced its plans to invest about 500 million lei annually, for the next 5️ years, in a 120 projects portfolio. Both the interconnections and the digitalization and cyber security areas are targeted, we found out from Cătălin Nițu, the president of the Transelectrica’s Directorate.
Dear Mr. Cătălin Nițu, what are the investment priorities for Transelectrica and where are you now with the most important of them?
We are committed to respecting the schedule of the investment plan, even under special conditions such as those imposed by the pandemic. Throughout the country, the company has over 30 construction sites open for investment works and, throughout this period, the activity has continued with the sustained effort of our employees and contractors.
As in any organization, the investment strategy, but especially the achievement of investment objectives, have a key role in relation to all other activities. In addition, as we are a company with regulated activity, the revenues largely depend on the degree of realization of the investment plan assumed by the company and approved by ANRE. From this perspective, investment works need a coherent path and a unified approach of the strategic decisions.
Therefore, our main strategic objectives are currently focused on investing in the electricity transmission grid, as well as in the system infrastructure and on the implementation of digitization programs.
The company’s strategic directions in respect with the investment are the closure of the 400 kV national ring and the construction of the 400 kV metropolitan ring of Bucharest, the development of interconnection capacity with neighboring countries, strengthening the power transmission grid (PTG) in order to integrate renewable energy and future units 3 and 4 of Cernavoda NPP.
We are currently carrying out essential projects such as refurbishment of the Domnești station, refurbishment and extension of the Iernut station, refurbishment of the Ungheni station, construction of the 400 kV overhead power line Cernavodă-Stâlpu, switching the axis Porțile de Fier – Reșița – Timiș – Săcălaz to 400 kV voltage.
What can you tell us about cross-border interconnection projects?
The last two projects I mentioned will ensure the increase of the interconnection capacity of the national power system with the systems of the neighboring countries. We are also making progress on the 400 kV Gutinaș-Smârdan overhead power line, a project co-financed through POIM.
We are also in an advanced phase with the resumption of the refurbishment project of the Reșița station, an extremely important objective for the operationalization of the commercial exchanges on the Reșița-Pancevo interconnection line.
Another extremely important project for us and on which we focus our attention is the completion of the Oradea-Bekescsaba interconnection power line. We resumed, after 12 years of stagnation, the works for the completion of this very important line for the completion of the 400 kV ring on the western area.
Also, talking about this, our main investment objective is to unblock the Gădălin-Suceava 400 kV overhead power line project. It is an investment objective of strategic importance, essential for the closure of the 400 kV ring in the northern part of the country, which will contribute both to achieving the energy targets of the European Union in terms of renewable energy integration and increasing safety in consumer supply, but also in order to reduce losses on high voltage lines. It will also contribute to the economic development in the area, allowing the possibility of new large consumers to connect to the network.
When we talk about large-scale investment projects carried out by Transelectrica, such as refurbishment of transformation stations or the construction of high-voltage overhead lines, we must keep in mind that they are very complex and time consuming operations. In the case of a new line, for example, before entering the execution stage, numerous preliminary stages of design, approval, authorization and procurement are completed, in accordance with the legal provisions. In addition, most projects of this type involve exceptional technical complexity, which requires time and full expertise. The same happens in the case of refurbishments and modernizations of power substations.
What are the future trends in the energy market that you anticipate will have an impact on Transelectrica’s business?
Transelectrica SA is an organization that has its foundations both on the implementation of new technologies and on the continuous improvement of human resources. In this regard, the pandemic period is a challenge for us as well. We are at the beginning of a new digitization process that aims to migrate us to an interoperable infrastructure at the level of business processes designed in computer systems and included in an enterprise architecture.
The implementation of the digitalization concept is supported by the strategy in the field of research and innovation, which strengthens the company’s vision in terms of modernizing the transport network. The company’s Digital Transformation Program ensures the operationalization of the vision of all stakeholders, in the sense of implementing a flexible, open and interoperable infrastructure within a digital portfolio, in which traditional processes are automated so that information is accessible in real time.
The objectives associated with the Digital Transformation Program will lead to the development of digital capabilities at both the operational and organizational levels.
For the local communities, the sustainable development of the electricity transmission network means the improvement of the quality and the security in the electricity supply, but especially economic growth. A stronger transport network allows the connection of new large consumers and new production capacities and, thus, to attract investors in the areas where the large investment projects of Transelectrica will be completed.
The increasingly relevant presence of renewable energy in the national energy mix defines one of our national priorities, namely the integration of production from renewable sources, thus contributing to the development of the European electricity transmission infrastructure.
2020 is an atypical year from so many points of view. How have Transelectrica’s financial indicators evolved this year?
Transelectrica registered in the first half of 2020 a net profit of 116 million lei, almost four times higher than in the first half of last year. Also, the profit obtained in the first half of 2020 from operating activities recorded a substantial increase of 267% compared to the equivalent period of 2019.
We improved the profitability of our activity, so that the total profit from the operating activity increased by 108 million lei compared to the first half of the previous year, mainly due to the reduction of operating costs (including depreciation).
The context of the first half of 2020 was a difficult one, but our commitment to investment and performance is firm even in special conditions such as those imposed by the current economic situation. For Transelectrica, investments are the main source of development and technological evolution. Through a unified approach to strategic decisions, we will continue to improve the achievement of the investment plan and the achievement of the company’s development objectives. Because Transelectrica needs development on all levels, this is possible only by rethinking the entire organizational paradigm. In this sense, this year we initiated a series of steps to streamline all internal processes and to identify ways to achieve better productivity both at the organizational level and from the perspective of the company’s position in the national energy system, but also in the region. Transelectrica accelerates the transformation into a dynamic company, with integrated processes and resources, which will adapt to current business conditions, generate trust and sustainability.
This interview firstly appeared in the printed edition of Energynomics Magazine, issued in October 2020.
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