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Talk Community Interview : Álvaro Sánchez Miralles

Álvaro Sánchez Miralles, Chief Executive Officer, Stemy Energy

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for the energy industry?

The objective of electricity systems is to ensure reliable delivery of electricity at an affordable cost to consumers. Flexibility can be defined as the ability of a system to respond to variability and uncertainty of demand and supply. Loads change, sometimes in unpredictable ways (e.g., during a football match), and conventional generators (OCGT, CCGT, pumped hydro, coal…) usually adapt the production to the demand through market mechanisms (offering balancing services in ancillary service markets). Unfortunately, sometimes they may be unavailable due to unexpected events such as natural disasters or mechanical failures. 

In the future decarbonized energy systems, the energy sector of each country will suffer a transformation to comply with the European directives that require 70% or higher renewable production by 2030. For this reason, the number of generators that provide this flexibility (generation flexibility) will be reduced since renewable energy sources (RES) are considered variable generation (VG). RES provide power that changes over time based on weather conditions and sun paths. This may introduce faster changes in aggregate supply than in systems without VG. As a result, VG increases response requirements. Therefore, demand flexibility becomes essential for keeping the balance in electricity systems with high renewable shares. To achieve this, it is necessary to involve end-users, citizens, in the energy transition. 


What do you see as the biggest threat to the energy industry?

I would highlight three:

First, not creating a level playing field for distributed generation (DG). Traditionally, access tariffs were mostly paid by end-users, because they were the ultimate cause for the costs of the power grids. Nowadays, end-users can choose if they want to get electricity from centralized or distributed generation. Therefore, the cost of the power grids should be paid by the centralized generators. This is a big paradigm shift, and traditional utilities are lobbying to prevent it. 

Second, failing to engage electricity end-users in the energy transition. DG is a key aspect to success, as well as unlocking flexibility from loads. 

Finally, not reaching small customers, which represent more than 50% of consumption, with flexibility unlocking technology. It is essential to get the most out of community self-consumption (avoiding grid losses and investments in copper) and to help national balancing (to maximize renewables) and avoid congestions in local and national grids (preventing grid investments). 


What are the key topics you will highlight at this year’s EUW?

Involving end-users in the energy transition. The energy transition must be done putting end-users in the centre of the transformation. It is very important for demand to realise their key role in the renewable electric system of the future. Demand participation will not only be crucial for grid balance, but also for the electrification of other relevant sectors such as transport or heating systems, which will cause a considerable reduction of pollutant emissions.


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