Valeriu Iftime
President
Elsaco

12 August 2019

Elsaco has been recognized as one of the most successful companies in Romania in its field. The company started in 1992 as a distributor of utility meters and developed over time into a complex business, driven by the idea of energy efficiency. Today, through its nine companies, Elsaco provides turnkey engineering services, equipment, systems and solutions for energy efficiency, and software developed in-house.

 

How has Elsaco evolved in the Romanian market since inception and what are the key sectors driving demand nowadays?

We started out by selling utility meters and not necessarily with the idea of growing into a complex organization. However, working in this sector gave us a great grasp on energy consumption in Romania and from here we started looking into how energy is produced and distributed, and expanded into building distribution networks and plants of various sizes. Next, we asked ourselves how these could be made more efficient. The answer was technology, so we leveraged our engineering background and developed software that tracks consumption and performs efficiency calculations. This led us further to thinking about energy efficiency as a concept and creating a division that handled studies, strategies and theoretical models in this field. For operational efficiency, we split these distinct functions into nine entities that operate under the Elsaco umbrella today. Our abilities are now numerous. Imagine a deserted city - Elsaco has the science and capabilities to fully supply it with water, electrical and thermal energy. 

In terms of demand, we see good opportunities in two areas at the moment: the modernization of water and sanitation networks - for which European funding is available (approximately 3 billion EUR) - and district heating projects, including requests from industrial players that are looking for ways to optimize their consumption.

 

Energy efficiency is one of Romania’s strategic objectives for development, and a core concern for Elsaco. Where does Romania stand currently from an energy efficiency perspective?

Energy efficiency is on everybody’s mind. Romania still has a long way to go in this matter and there are three key aspects it needs to consider: production, transportation and consumer education. In terms of production we have equipment and capabilities that allow rather high levels of efficiency, but transportation is still very problematic. There are heat distribution networks in Romania that have not been restored for the past 50 years, and this causes about 30% of all thermal energy that is transported to be lost.  The need for efficiency here cannot be understated.

The same is true when it comes to consumer education. Isolation of residential buildings is already a valuable initiative, and by installing smart systems for temperature adjustment we can achieve additional savings of approximately 20%. Reducing consumption and educating consumer behavior is maybe more important than building efficient thermal plants. As a company we have many ideas on how to tackle this issue, from network modeling to technologies for fine measurement of consumption. 

 

As a EU member, Romania was expected to implement smart metering for 80% of its consumers by 2020, but the objective has recently been pushed to 2028. What are the obstacles in implementing this change?

Things tend to move slower in Romania but no doubt this transition will be done. There are about 12 million consumers in the country, which implies a relatively high financial effort to install the smart meters; in addition, proper infrastructure is needed to allow for data collection and interpretation. The fast pace at which technology evolves also raises challenges, for example today we have instruments that did not exist three years ago such as IoT solutions that allow remote and real-time reading of meters. We need to consider this change within the wider concept of smart cities.

One problem I noticed is that no one checks after implementation if it was done correctly and if the result is the expected one. The whole idea of ‚Äč‚Äčthis measure is to analyze and manage the energy flows later, so as to reduce consumption while keeping the same levels of comfort. 

 

What are Elsaco’s objectives for the next 2-3 years and how do you see the local market unfolding?

Our priority is to participate in the modernization of urban heating systems in Romanian cities, as well as water and sanitation networks, and to deliver turnkey projects for industrial consumers. We estimate that projects in these areas, at a national level, will reach a total value of 7-9 billion EUR in the coming years. The software part also remains a focal point for us, including cyber-security, communication systems and remote management. We are also keeping an open horizon for expanding internationally, though we will only do this strategically, in the markets where we can remain competitive.

We see Romania as a market with a colossal potential and believe that both the private companies and the state need to fulfill their roles effectively, so that we can successfully carry out our goals for a cleaner future.

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