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Moldova Invest in dialogue with Alexandru Chiriță, CEO of Electrica

electrica alexandru chirita - Moldova Invest


Moldova Invest in dialogue with Alexandru Chiriță, CEO of Electrica

Forumul Economic Regional Moldova 2024 – Vatra Dornei, 4–6 iulie

The Electrica Group is one of the most significant players in the energy services sector, serving as a key participant in the distribution, supply, and production of electricity in Romania.

The Electrica Group provides services to approximately 3.9 million users and has a nationwide presence, organized into three regions for electricity distribution: North Transylvania, South Transylvania, North Muntenia, and throughout the country for electricity supply, maintenance, and energy services.

Since July 2014, Electrica has been a predominantly privately owned company listed on the stock exchanges in Bucharest and London. Electrica is the only Romanian company listed in the field of electricity distribution and supply.

During our dialogue, Alexandru Chiriță, CEO of Electrica, covered various topics of interest, ranging from planned investments and key projects for the company to Romania’s economic evolution and the development of green energy.

Alexandru Chirita CEO Electrica scaled - Moldova Invest
Regarding Romania’s economic evolution, Alexandru Chiriță expressed confidence in the country’s potential and emphasized the importance of collaboration among economic actors to revitalize the economy and create opportunities for sustainable societal development.

What are the main strategic directions of the Electrica Group for 2024? What key investments and projects are planned by the company for this year and the medium to long term?

In December of last year, we finalized the Electrica Group’s strategy for the 2024-2030 period. Under the umbrella of “The Promise of Innovation: Shaping a Sustainable Future,” the new strategic objectives are not only a response to current challenges but also an anticipation of the future of the energy sector.

Our strategy revolves around three main pillars:

  1. sustainable growth of the company’s value, contributing to the transition to a green economy,
  2. transformation, and sustainability through the widespread implementation of ESG principles and organizational excellence programs.
  3. efficiency by enhancing network security, digitization, and improving business resilience.

0D9A3814 - Moldova InvestKey investments target the development of green energy projects and the implementation of advanced technologies to better integrate renewable sources into the grid. These efforts include accelerating the transition to renewable energy, modernizing infrastructure in the 18 counties we cover, and internal process digitization.

The majority of the proposed investments aim to maximize the performance of the infrastructure managed by the distribution operator within the Electrica Group, Distribuție Energie Electrică Romania (DEER), by streamlining business operations and preparing for the next regulatory period while optimizing cost structures.

On the supply side, we are committed to building closer relationships with our customers, based on a product and service off ering that meets their needs, and developing our employees’ skills.

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Beyond traditional areas of interest such as electric power distribution, electricity and natural gas supply, and energy services, we are keen on developing new activities based on innovative technologies while continuously monitoring and analyzing growth opportunities through mergers or acquisitions. In addition to existing projects, we aim to expand our portfolio in the field of electricity production, especially from renewable sources.

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“As a Romanian company, we are committed to playing a significant role in supporting the economy and promoting sustainable development.”

Optimizing IT support functions and aligning with industry-specific trends and solutions play an important role. In this context, beyond digitizing processes and integrating them into information platforms, distribution projects include the development of smart grids, significant automation of networks and transformation stations, integration of smart meters, and process optimization for incorporating prosumers.

On the supply side, modernizing customer interaction interfaces, automating contracting, reporting and billing processes, and data exchange with all distributors are just some of the priority initiatives to ensure competitive advantages for the Group’s business segments. At the same time, the ESG principles we have strategically embraced lay the foundation for the Group’s long-term sustainable growth. These include employee training programs and the adoption of environmental policies to reduce the impact of our operations on the environment.

Lastly, through collaborations with partners in academia and technology, we aim to be at the forefront of research and development in the field of clean energy, promoting innovative solutions for current and future energy challenges. These partnerships will play a crucial role in accelerating the adoption of new technologies and sustainable practices in the Romanian energy sector.

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Considering your preparation and experience, how would you characterize the economic evolution of Romania in the upcoming period?

In the upcoming period, Romania’s economy will continue to be strongly infl uenced by both internal and external factors. On one hand, the successful implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan plays a crucial role in economic recovery and addressing regional disparities in terms of development and competitiveness.

On the other hand, there will be ongoing opportunities and challenges stemming from the global context, including the evolving border confl ict, the impact of climate change, and the dynamics of international trade relations.

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Despite these challenges, I am optimistic about Romania’s economic evolution, relying on the country’s promising prospects and the allocation of necessary resources to capitalize on opportunities and overcome obstacles.

Romania possesses significant economic potential, especially due to its workforce and strategic position in Europe. In this context, every economic actor has a crucial responsibility to contribute to this collective eff ort to revitalize the economy and create opportunities for the sustainable development of our society.

As a Romanian company, we are committed to playing a significant role in supporting the economy and promoting sustainable development. In this regard, we will continue to invest in technology, accelerate the digital transformation of our business, and support the sustainable development of local communities.

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What are the plans for the development of green energy in 2024? How would you characterize the year 2023 in this regard?

The year 2023 has been the most active for Electrica in this segment. We aim to consolidate and further develop in this direction in 2024. We remain aligned with international trends regarding renewable energy sources and innovative technologies, adapting to the requirements of a changing industry. Last year, we completed the acquisition of two companies primarily engaged in solar energy production. These companies are developing the “Vulturu” project with an installed capacity of 12 MWp and the “Satu Mare 2” project with an installed capacity of 27 MW, both in the “ready to build” phase.

Currently, our most ambitious project is the construction of an advanced gas-fired combined cycle power plant that integrates a hydrogen component and storage capacities. The plant will be located in Fântânele, Mureș County, with a maximum installed capacity of 500 MW. We are in the early stages of this initiative, conducting market research for the feasibility study. Once completed, we will proceed to obtain all necessary corporate approvals.

How is the number of prosumers evolving? What predictions or estimates do you have for this segment in 2024?

The evolution of the number of prosumers in Romania has witnessed a spectacular increase in recent years. This is a signal indicating a significant transformation in the energy sector, with prosumers playing a crucial role in the transition to a green economy. However, the rapid growth of this segment presents challenges for national distribution networks, which must efficiently manage the delivered energy, avoiding overloads, and ensuring system stability.

In the current context, there is a need for the adoption of regulatory measures that allow the harmonious integration of prosumers into the national grid, as well as significant investments in the modernization of existing infrastructure. This includes the development of smart grids, investments in energy storage systems, and the adjustment of installed capacities to refl ect the actual consumption needs of prosumers.

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At the end of last year, in the 18 counties covered by our distribution operator, over 40,000 prosumers were connected, with an installed capacity of approximately 450 MW. To give you an idea of how rapidly this segment has developed, according to the Ministry of Energy data, this was the total number of prosumers nationwide in January 2023. By December 2023, the national total had exceeded 100,000, with an installed capacity surpassing the output of the Cernavodă power plant, reaching over 1500 MW.

For 2024, we anticipate a continuation of this trend, supported by favorable legislation and government programs such as the Green Photovoltaic House, which encourages the installation of solar panels and potentially storage systems.

These initiatives are designed not only to stimulate renewable energy production but also to provide prosumers with fl exible options for compensating and monetizing surplus energy. To support this evolution, it is essential for both authorities and companies in the energy sector to collaborate in developing a legislative and technological framework adapted to the new market realities.

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What would be the necessary investments in the network to manage the increased capacities of renewable energy production?

To manage the increased capacities of renewable energy production, it is necessary for network investments to be directed towards the modernization and digitization of the existing infrastructure. This includes the implementation of smart grids capable of monitoring and controlling energy distribution efficiently, adapting to variations in production from renewable sources.

Energy storage systems also play a crucial role in balancing demand and supply, ensuring a constant power supply, and reducing the need to resort to less sustainable energy sources during peak periods.

At the same time, expanding the network’s capacity to handle large volumes of renewable energy is necessary, which may involve significant updates to physical infrastructure such as transmission lines and transformer stations. These improvements will enable the network to transport energy from new green projects, often located in remote areas, to consumption centers.

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