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Fast transformation for the utilities sector hampered by low-visibility environment

20 November 2020

Once again, for the fourth year in a row, Energynomics organized its conference dedicated to utility companies in Romania – The future of utilities – challenges and opportunities” –, to identify trends and challenges in the field. In an event supported by CEZ Romania, five expert speakers participated for a LIVE online conversation watched by almost 1,000 people.

The industry had been preparing for a dynamic 2020 year, from the perspective of changes in legislation and regulations, with the corresponding impact on the market behaviors of supply and distribution companies, said AFEER President Ion Lungu. However, since March, everything has been turned upside down by the health crisis provoked by the Covid-19 virus. At the same time, the market is fully aware of the wave of changes in the regulatory framework, but also of the lack of clarity of some long-awaited measures insistently requested by the business environment.

Confusion and uncertainty

2020 started under the pressure of the implementation on the local market of some European regulations, such as Directive 2019/944 and EU Regulation 2019/943. “Although these documents were approved under the Romanian presidency of the Council of the European Union, we are still not very prepared to transpose them into Romanian legislation and to apply them correctly,” Ion Lungu noted.

In connection with the Regulation, he addressed in more detail the issues relating to long-term contracts. “Directly negotiated bilateral contracts must be allowed on the over-the-counter markets, subject to compliance with Union competition law,” Ion Lungu quoted the official papers. “The ‘long-term’ phrase was defined by ANRE as a period of more than one year. We do not necessarily like it, but it is a coherent regulation that makes the law applicable… Unfortunately, not only an Emergency Ordinance (74/2020) has appeared that allows only new producers to conclude long-term bilateral contracts, but also Law 155 / 2020 occurred to say that these provisions apply only to aggregators!” In short, the confusion and uncertainty about the conclusion of this type of contract remains, which encourages a certain type of inaction from market players.

3Ds for utilities

The future of utilities is related to the 3D strategy: decarbonization, digitalization and decentralization, said Doina Vornicu, Chief Operating Officer of CEZ Romania.

“Certainly, the future of utilities is digital: all today’s processes need to be improved and move to the next level of digitization and robotics. At CEZ we started for some time the process called Smart Transformation – we set out to turn all these companies into smart companies, and we started from the process of intelligent measurement, modernization of electricians in the field. Our Mobile Workforce Management system has been in operation for more than a year, and our electricians have made tablets their friends, which makes all the processes of operation and maintenance much simpler.” At the same time, the electrician can announce online the status of the work, Vornicu added.

“We have prepared an ambitious program for smart measurement – in three years we will install 400,000 meters for consumers, in the Oltenia Distribution area. Remote control of SCADA systems is a program that we will conclude in the coming years. Currently, over 100 transformer stations are operated remotely directly and we intend to complete this program by 2023”, said Doina Vornicu.

Cogeneration from Kawasaki

Kawasaki has solutions for power generation using conventional natural gas, but also using hydrogen – the new trend at the moment globally, says Cristian Athanasovici, Business Development Manager, Kawasaki Gas Turbine Europe. “Kawasaki Gas Turbine produces gas turbines, internal combustion engines, but also has integrated solutions for cogeneration power plants, for different types of consumers – industrial or urban,” he said.


“Kawasaki Heavy produces a lot of equipment and has solutions for many different industries. We produce ships that transport liquefied hydrogen, today, high-speed trains, airplanes, aircraft engines, motorcycles and high-precision robots. Since 2018, the Energy Division, Kawasaki Gas Turbine Europe, established in Germany, near Frankfurt, also has a representative office for South-Eastern Europe in Romania,” he said.

In the field of wastewater, Kawasaki produces blowers for bubbling water; we can supplement this technology with gas turbines or internal combustion engines to produce electricity and heat”.

District heating needs major investments

“The heating sector needs massive financing, we can no longer resist with a system that has barely resisted for decades,” said Claudiu Cretu, special administrator ELCEN. “New, efficient digitization capabilities are needed – this pandemic highlights once again the need for digital solutions and the context is favorable for them to be implemented. When it comes to decarbonization, we are talking about a transition period, and gas-fired production units are those that can support renewable energy.”

Claudiu Cretu stressed that the technology of the 2020 does not allow heating of Bucharest by means of renewable energy alone. “However, we can try pilot projects that complement the solutions in cogeneration based on gas and then, through technological evolution, achieve the required neutrality. For the time being, however, the realistic solution is the power plants in cogeneration”, said Claudiu Cretu.

The Bucharest city hall recently signed the contract to finance the rehabilitation of the thermal power distribution system in Bucharest, which provides for a financing of 1,6 billion lei, out of which 1,3 billion in European non-reimbursable funds. “It is important that the procurement procedures and the signing of contracts take place as soon as possible so that the implementation of the program can begin as soon as possible,” he added.

Secure and complete communication structures with HPE Romania

Alexandru Vîlcu, Hybrid it Manager at HPE Romania, started his speech from the evidence that digitization is now present in all aspects of our lives. In the industrial sector, one of the challenges is “the huge amount of information, in an unstructured manner, more and more year by year”. Much data is produced by unconventional machines, and intelligent management, which can combine the information area with all the modern environment and existing infrastructure, has become a goal for any company. “Let’s imagine, in the extractive area, a probe that really collects data and adjusts its own parameters on site according to local diagnosis. That means a stand-alone solution, which must operate in a distributed way,” he said.

Using HPE solutions, any communication structure will be secure and complete. “With autonomy, everything must go without human intervention, for maximum speed and efficiency, and from a security point of view, we must ensure that standards are met, and we have prepared a range of functionalities to ensure the operation and communication of equipment.”

However, the reduction of operating costs and predictability in the services offered to consumers remain crucial, he said, before presenting some case studies.

Almost 160 people have registered on the MyConnector platform to participate in the dialogue, representatives of organizations such as AAECR, ABB ASEA BROWN BOVERI SRL, ACUE, Advantage Austria – Secția Comerciala a Ambasadei Austriei, Alpiq Energy SE, ALRO Slatina, Ambasada Republicii Bulgaria, Ambasada SUA, Axpo Energy Romania, Azomureș, BCR, Beia Consult International, Business France, Centrica Business Solutions Romania SRL., CET-Nord SA, CIECH Soda Romania SA, COGEN ROMANIA, Coproform SRL, CRH Ciment Romania, Delgaz Grid, E.ON, Eaton Electric, Electrica, Electrocentrale București SA, Electromagnetica, EnergoBit, EY, Hidroelectrica, Honeywell, HPE, ING Bank, Linde, Metaplast, Michelin, Mitsubishi Corporation, OMV Petrom, RADET Constanta, Siemens Energy, Termoficare Oradea, Transelectrica, Veolia Energie Romania, Vestra Industry, Yokogawa.

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