Armand Doru Domuta
CEO
Restart Energy

12 August 2019

Restart Energy has been active in the renewable energy market since 2009.  They have developed an extensive sales and distribution network in the field of energy supply, and they are making use of modern technologies, such as blockchain, to bring about substantial changes in the supply of electricity and natural gas in Romania with global ambitions.

 

How has Restart Energy evolved in the Romanian market and what are some key milestones that shaped your presence here? 

Restart Energy is a company of innovation. We started this business from scratch with extremely limited access to both material and human resources, so we had to innovate in order to compete with the giants that dominate the local market. The first platform we came up with was the Restart Energy Franchise, the first franchise of energy and gas supply contracts in Romania. Essentially, we realized that the only way to generate sales of micro-volumes to domestic consumers at a national level, in an economically efficient way and with minimal fixed costs, is by offering the chance to all individuals and companies that qualify to become franchisees Restart Energy and intermediate energy and gas subscriptions.

The second important innovation was that from the beginning our company had a strong online presence, more specifically we launched the first 100% online application through which interested consumers can change their current provider in under five minutes using just their mobile phone. From the very beginning we offered various payment methods and established over 30,000 pay points nationwide. With this recipe, Restart Energy has reached 10,000 customers after the first year of activity and the largest national energy sales network, all with minimal resources and relying strongly on the community’s wish to freely choose their supplier.

 

In 2018 Restart Energy has launched the RED (Restart Energy Democracy) Platform that uses Blockchain technology. Can you tell us more about this initiative and the goals it wants to achieve? 

RED is a global project designed to liberalize energy from the chains of bureaucracy and market monopolies. The goal is to connect energy consumers directly with producers using state-of-the-art IoT and Blockchain technology. We are basically talking about installing intelligent sensors for consumers as well as renewable energy producers that take the data from existing meters and safely upload them directly into a Blockchain decentralized database. With this modern infrastructure of transparent energy measurement (which can cost 10 times less than a smart meter and which performs the same functions except for telecontrol), it is possible to allocate and balance in real time (under 1 minute) the energy produced from renewable and intermittent sources between consumers and producers who have subscribed to the platform.

Such a system represents a liberalization of energy in the true sense of the word because consumers are able to choose through the platform to receive energy even from a friend or neighbor if it is a producer or prosumer, and more than that one can choose to send energy to friends or family the same way we now send money by phone. The most beautiful part is that we as a supplier have created a new market where consumers can freely trade the energy directly with the producers at the price set by them, without requiring our involvement.

 

How would you assess the appetite for green energy amongst Romanian consumers?

Our experience is that consumers in Romania have an increased appetite for clean energy and understand the importance of developing these technologies in the long term, both in terms of environmental protection and energy security. This is evidenced by the large number of photovoltaic parks and wind turbines that have been installed in Romania between 2011 and 2017, accounting for more than 5,000 MW installed power. Romania is among the European countries with the highest share of renewable energy and the most balanced energy mix.

New technologies and the scale economy of equipment production, as well as the rise in fossil fuels prices, have pushed the costs of renewable energy to steadily decline in recent years in both Romania and many European countries where grid parity has already been reached.  This means that the leveled cost of energy (LCOE) from renewable sources has become lower than the current energy price in the network. Aside from price, we have noticed in Romania a growing interest amongst consumers regarding the type of energy they use. It is a positive trend and in this context it is very important that they are given the freedom to choose transparently their source of renewable energy. This can stimulate the local energy production and can also improve the balance at the national energy system level.

 

What final message do you wish to convey to our international readers?

Romania has advanced considerably since joining the European Union in 2007. The Romanian business environment has gained from unhindered access to the European single market but has also faced the competition of European companies with better access to capital and accumulated know-how in decades of capitalism. I believe that Romanian inventiveness coupled with more access to capital can generate ideas and business with global success, with the condition that they are also supported by state institutions, through stable legislation and a united society. At present, many opportunities are lost because of  Romanians’ typical individualism, opportunities that could be exploited for the benefit of the entire society.

My message to foreign investors is to have confidence in Romania's potential because it is a sleeping giant. We are a NATO member state, the main security provider in the Balkans with a particularly important geo-strategic position. Nature was generous with Romania, endowed with the Carpathian Mountains as well as hills, plains, the Danube Delta and the Black Sea. We have legislation that encourages foreign investments with minimal barriers to entry, but also smart and diligent people who identify with the human principles that underlie the formation of the European Union. Romania is a country that wants more and will reward those who invest in the future.

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