Corina Popescu, Electrica: A decade is coming in which the consumer will have an active role, we must change our mindset

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The new energy transition imposes on companies an accelerated pace of change, and the decade 2020-30 is one in which they must change their mindset, says Corina Popescu, CEO of Electrica.

“We need to change our mindset in this decade. If in the past, at the European level, the final consumer was at the center of electricity and gas developments, this decade is the one in which the final consumer begins to play an active role – I think this is the main paradigm for which we all, who act in this sector, must prepare and face,” said Corina Popescu, during the 7th edition of the Energy Strategy Summit, an event organized by Energynomics.

Supply and distribution, the two key segments of the Electrica group, will have to go through major changes.

“The supply will no longer be a simple supply of utilities. If we think that in the future we will be able to maintain our position in the market only by selling electricity or natural gas, I think we are wrong. The future is for companies that are very flexible and will start selling services — in addition to utilities – associated services. This sudden liberalization – we say it is sudden, but we have been talking about it since 2007 – this liberalization, somehow, forces us to act in this direction and not just to establish concepts … more and more consumers want to become prosumers, to have their own charging stations for electric vehicles, to be the beneficiaries of complex services and I believe that the future of supply is this, in which a supplier is not a simple seller of utilities, but of aggregate services that bring more value-added to final consumers. On the other hand, the distribution network must also be prepared to face these challenges … it is very difficult and there are countries that have had problems in managing their distribution systems and not only – but the energy system as a whole, due to this distributed production,” added Corina Popescu.

She has also stressed the need for investment in digitalization and automation.

“Without digitalizing the network and without implementing automation systems to help us control these processes, things cannot be controlled in the future. They must also be aligned with the development plans of transmission system operators (TSOs) – this is why, at the European level, this collaboration was created – TSO-DSO. Basically, distributors are starting to play an increasingly important role in ensuring the energy security of any country. These things can only be done with investments,” she added.

Even if investments normally translate into price increases, the market can avoid this by attracting European funds.

“We, at the level of Electrica Group, at least during the last two years, have projects on European funds, some are mature, we are in the final phase of signing with the Romanian authorities to access these non-reimbursable funds – it is important to direct, mainly, all these funds, towards the digitalization of the network, in order to prepare it to face the transformation we are talking about…. At the level of the Electrica Group, we want to be more than just off-takers (buyers of the finished product – energy – e.n.). I wish and I think that for the sustainability of the business in the medium and long term, I think that Electrica must be more courageous in developing its own electricity production projects, and I could say that here too we have ambitious plans – I hope it will happen, too, as it happened with the plans we have set out in the Group’s efficiency strategy for this period. I am convinced that we have valuable people in the energy sector. The problem of human resources is not only Electrica Group’s, but of the entire sector, and it is a major problem – but here, too, we have ambitious plans. We already have six dual education classes that we finance and we set out to make this funding a habit within the Electrica Group. I believe that by investing in young human resources we can ensure the sustainability of the business that we develop,” concluded Corina Popescu.

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Bogdan Tudorache

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