Behind every project there is a team of people who work together for a common purpose. Knowing a project does not only mean understanding the results achieved or the activities carried out, but also knowing who is behind these activities, what motivates them and what were the life paths, choices and personal goals that led them to be part of a research team today. For this reason we want to introduce you today one of the frESCO partners, Giannis Georgopoulos, Energy Markets Manager at Elin Verd SA, through an interview dedicated to him.
- Which is your role in frESCO project?
VERD is coordinating the activities that regard exploitation and replication of frESCO’s main results, the identification of the most convenient ways for their market deployment. The exploitation strategy also involves addressing IPR, standardization and regulatory issues.
Additionally, VERD leads the demonstration activities in the Greek pilot, acting as the service providers of the new and innovative services of the project.
Finally, VERD has led the definition and development of the business models (for ESCOs, Aggregators and hybrid approaches), for the commercial deployment of the new services.
- Why has your organization chosen to participate as a partner (to coordinate for CIRCE) in this project? What are the reasons, motivation and benefits that convinced you to be part of it?
VERD is an energy company, whose activities cover a wide range of disciplines across the sustainable energy domain. The primary activity of the company is production and distribution of state-of-the-art technology biofuels. In addition, VERD also operates as a Renewables Aggregator and Trader in the energy markets. VERD also provides consulting as well as implementation of sustainable solutions, distributed energy sources and storage facilities.
As such, VERD is capable of both identifying business opportunities for the new energy services, as well as deploying them in the market itself.
- What are the main challenges you face in this project and how do you overcome these challenges?
The diversity of the market status and regulation in the different countries of the pilot projects -and the EU in general- provides the biggest challenge so far. EU market integration has not proceeded at the same speed across the EU. Therefore, energy services have a different level of applicability as well as acceptance form residential consumers. Αs such, the definition of the services and the flexibility of the business models are of paramount importance in order to ensure that the services can be deployed in various degrees across all EU countries.
At the same time, residential energy economics was not regarded extremely significant for both the consumers as well as energy companies that were interested to undertake these endeavors and bear a substantial upfront cost of the investments. Of course the current energy crisis and the steadily increasing cost of energy for households, has altered the approach, but still, a clear definition of the business models and opportunities that are to be tested in frESCO is of paramount importance.
- Is the current COVID-19 emergency affecting your daily job? How?
COVID-19 has affected a lot the way that energy companies interact with their customers. For the successful identification of the best solutions for each consumer, it is vital that an on-site assessment has to take place. Individuals have different needs be they industrial, commercial or residential. As such on-site visits and assessments as well as thorough discussions with the consumer for the identification of their particular needs and consuming habits, have been put to a halt during this period. Providing adequate and accepted energy services cannot be designed only by the exchange of data.
In addition, on-site visits and interaction with the end users of the services are also critical from an “energy consumption education” point of view. Energy consumption in the past decades had nothing to do with the opportunities, alternatives and solutions that modern technology can provide. As such, it is very important for the service provider to both instruct and clarify various energy behavior issues, as well as build a steady relationship/ partnership between the consumer and the service provider.
- Do you think that your activities will be different after the end of the emergency? How?
On site visits and normal operations have slowly begun to take place during 2022. This has allowed for ESCOs in general to be in a better position to provide their services to their customers. In addition, consumption profiles that had been affected during the COVID-19 measures, have begun to revert to the pre-COVID period and are more correct to address than the distorted profiles and needs that had emerged during the curfews and the curtailment of commercial and industrial operations.
- In your opinion, what impact frESCO will have in the future?
The energy crisis that has resulted in skyrocketing prices across the EU, serves as an accelerator for the deployment of sustainable solutions. Consumers that previously did not have the incentives for either sustainable solutions, energy savings or direct market participation, as residential consumers. They need to contain the energy cost, or deploy smart processes for the extraction of market value, through distributed RES, storage and EV facilities.
We expect as such that novel business models, such as the ones that FRESCO develops, will be of increased interest, particularly due to the P4P characteristics that minimize the capital costs for customers or the service providers and ensure the shortening of the payback period, the viability and the further deployment and acceptance of the services across the majority of the EU households.
- What do you enjoy the most about working in an international Project Consortium such as frESCO?
The international nature of the consortium, provides the opportunity to bring together different social, economic and market parameters and experiences. While the EU is on the way for the energy market integrations the lingering differences between EU countries are emerging. It is a great opportunity through projects such as frESCO to define, address and mitigate these differences in a regulatory and a social level. It will also serve for the faster integration of the energy markets across the EU.
- Who do you think frESCO can help the most? Which are the final targets?
The main beneficiaries of frESCO, are indeed the residential consumers. Residential consumers have due to their small consumption profiles, less incentives up to this point to actively participate in the energy markets or actively pursue energy savings due to the relatively low energy cost that was the status until now. The energy crisis affects households and family budgets to a great extent and as such, new and innovative energy services that can provide savings or revenues for household consumers, as well as promote participation in energy community schemes will become an integral part of the future for the residence of the future.
On the other hand, suppliers are also directly benefited from active consumers, as they will contain and reduce their exposure to the highly volatile energy markets. This will provide an opportunity for suppliers to provide affordable energy to the final consumers and focus on more innovative services. In this new era – the era of the active consumers- the strategic partners of the active consumer will be the ESCOs and Aggregators as service providers and new business potentials will be unlocked.