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, Tania Castro, Project Manager at La Corriente, through an interview dedicated to her.
- Which is your role in frESCO project?
My name is Tania Castro and I am Project Manager at La Corriente. We are an electrical consumer cooperative. Between our members we have citizens and companies concerned and active about a fair energy transition. We participate in the frESCO project being the link with the demosite in Madrid, which is an ecological residential community member of our coop.
La Corriente has been working identifying the most suitable community and building for the demo and in the activities to characterize the building and we are playing a key role in the testing activities, engaging with the community who is going to test the services and other relevant stakeholders in the pilot area. We are in charge with other partners of the planning of the demonstration in the building helping to ensure a smooth implantation in the building.
- 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?
Innovation is key for a social enterprise like us. Our core is to democratize the energy industry and transition to a new model more efficient and cleaner. Being in an innovation project with other partners in this context make us grow and have new ideas.
As an energy cooperative we offer different services and advice to our members, we were interested to replicate frESCO energy services to our members and amplify our services which could increase the energy savings and efficiency of our clients. For example: one of the services that the coop is offering is PV collective owned systems (in the building rooftops), which could be complemented with automation and non-energy services developed in frESCO project
We were looking as well to increase our know-how about new topics for us, like Flexibility Demand Response or Aggregation, as we operate in the Energy Markets (buying and selling energy for our members) with about 1000 energy contracts.
- What are the main challenges you face in this project and how do you overcome these challenges?
Our main challenge was to engage the community in the frESCO project. We needed to simplify difficult concepts into real services useful for them to make them willing to participate. By being a cooperative with a very engaged community and participating in many networks, we easily overcome the difficulties to find a community who could appreciate the benefits of frESCO.
- Is the current COVID-19 emergency affecting your daily job? How?
From the point of view that we were working with a residential community which had to take collective decisions about the participation in the project, we have had difficulties since no meetings were being held. It was hard to explain the project to them remotely.
Luckily, the COVID 19 situation at the moment has improved and we can meet again.
- What do you enjoy the most about working in an international Project Consortium such as frESCO?
Being in a Consortium with companies with different backgrounds make us learn about topics we usually do not cover. As well it is very nice to get the possibility of networking with different professionals in Europe.
- Who do you think frESCO can help the most? Which are the final targets?
For me, the services we provide with frESCO, besides the benefits itself like transforming an old building into a more intelligent one with very simple gadgets and becoming more efficient by Flexibility Demand by an operator, the new business model or the software developed, is that the users will have more info about their consumptions, they would be more conscious about energy saving and, in general, they learn about energy if they get involved in those services. For a cooperative like us, pedagogy in energy topics is very important to empower citizens.