Interview | Eduardo Nieto, Country Manager, EDP Renewables Romania

12 August 2019

EDP Renewables (EDPR) is a global leader in the renewable energy sector and the world’s fourth-largest wind energy producer. The company is present in 14 countries and has established its Romanian footprint in 2008.

 

Can you briefly introduce EDPR’s work in Romania and explain what initially drew your interest in the country? 

We arrived in Romania in 2008, and nowadays we have an installed capacity of 521 MW, spread across seven wind projects and six solar ones. Presently we are the third largest producer in Romania and the biggest Iberian investor.

We were attracted by Romania because of its massive potential for renewable energy combined with the fact that it still has a high dependency on coal. Further to this, we knew that the renewable energy sector was bound to see developments in order to reach the targets set out by the European Union for its members.

 

You have been present in Romania for more than 10 years now. What has been your experience in the local business environment?

The renewable legislation in Romania has been supported by the green certificates mechanism, which has collapsed by mid 2013 because of the regulatory changes that ensued.  This has stopped our investment strategy in Romania since them.

Nevertheless, we do welcome the fact that in 2017 the Romanian Government has acknowledged the difficulties of renewable energy investors and moved to the approval of GEO 24/2017, later endorsed by Law 124/2018. While this showed good will on behalf of the authorities, the results were not as positive as initially envisioned. The reason for this is the fact that OPCOM platform, the only place where green certificates can be sold, has no liquidity. It is clear that further efforts are needed to redress the situation.

 

Given the circumstances what do you see as a possible solution to stabilize the regulatory ecosystem and encourage investors in renewables?

Our proposal for the Government is to develop an alternative support scheme, that would need to cover two different aspects. One would be dealing with new projects, whereas the second would address existing investments that are relying on green certificates. We have proposed the development of a feed-in premium scheme and the possibility to move our installed capacities under this new model. If this happens it will give us clear visibility on future returns for the current installed capacity and resolve the issues that we are facing at present.

 There is some good news from this perspective. Recently the government, along with external advisors, has finalized a study on the implementation of contracts for differences (CFD). Such mechanism would give investors reason to further invest in Romania and even more, it would create a framework in which renewable energy could be offered at the lowest energy prices of all technologies.

 

EDPR is already present in 14 markets around the world. What is your strategy for growth going forward?

EDPR growth is based on three clear pillars: continue investment in markets with potential for renewable energy and with regulatory transparency, consolidate our presence in markets where we already operate and explore opportunities in new geographies, and branch out into other technologies, namely offshore wind, photovoltaic solar projects and other technological innovations like energy storage. 

We have in fact recently opened a battery-based energy storage facility in Romania, to help manage the energy that is being generated. Technical innovation is key for our activity and we will keep investing in projects like this.

 

How do you envision the role of renewables in the energy mix of the future and the part that EDPR will play in it?

At EDPR we are convinced that the energy of the future will be electric because it is clean, affordable and reliable. We also find ourselves in the middle of a revolution that is centered around disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence as well as sustainable development. With this in mind we made a solid commitment for 2030, which will see us actively contributing to the decarbonization of the economy, by reducing our CO2 emissions by 90% compared to 2005. This change will be based mainly on generation from renewable sources and by becoming a coal free company. The results are already starting to show, for instance in 2018 our power production reached 8,4 TWh of clean electricity, avoiding almost 6 tons of CO2 emissions.

We have ambitious growth objectives going forward, for example we plan to develop another 7GWh in the next three years. Our aim is to hold on to our leadership position in this sector and mitigate as much as possible the impact of climate change.

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