We have to change our mentality!

Alvaro has dedicated his career to research and development in the energy sector with a business development focus taking projects to market. He is driven to promote energy transition by empowering energy citizens towards a sustainable and just energy model. To this end, he is promoting a Fourth Sector business that is driven by a purpose to combine social innovation, alleviate energy poverty and drive decarbonisation of the sector. This visionary drive is grounded by his expertise in high-performance intelligent systems, energy trading and consumer engagement. He is the founder and CEO of Stemy Energy and professor at COMILLAS university in Madrid. He is a member of the MIT “Utility of the Future” and honorary member of the Spanish Industry 4.0 Observatory, has run more than 70 projects and delivered 30 high impact papers.

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A small group of experts from the European Union spoke on the subject of the energy transition at www.sciencebusiness.net 

Put people at the centre to provide sustainable energy for all.

was the clear message to all those who really want to promote the urgently needed change. More than enough reason to talk to the coordinator of ReDREAM, a Horizon 2020 EU research project, about the energy transition and the impact of his project after almost 12 months. Dr. Álvaro Sánchez Miralles is a professor at Madrid’s Comillas University and CEO of Stemy, a partner in the ReDREAM consortium. He is not only able to underline the statements of the EU experts, but is even more explicit in his answers… 

Hola Alvaro, ¿cómo estás?

Muchas gracias, muy bien.

 

 

I think we should continue the conversation in English. Is that OK for you?

Dr. Álvaro Sánchez Miralles:

Of course, but I’m glad you greeted me in my mother language.

 

 

What do you think has to change in the energy sector so that we can really achieve the energy transition?

Dr. Álvaro Sánchez Miralles:

I think it’s a mentality problem, we have to change the mentality. It’s not just a problem of big companies and governments. We cannot always blame to the politicians and say that they have to improve their policies.  I think it is very important to motivate everyone to change his attitude, because everybody should be part of the energy transition. This new approach, to achieve a carbon-free environment, must be: more decentralised, more democratic and more efficient.

 

 

How is that supposed to work?

Dr. Álvaro Sánchez Miralles: This is about people’s engagement, people’s awareness of the energy transition, including how to reduce carbon emissions, how to reduce energy bill, how consumers can take control of their own consumption.

 

 

And how can ReDREAM help to overcome this challenge?

Dr. Álvaro Sánchez Miralles:

REDREAM is a social project. It is not much about developing technical solutions, but more about social research and how to get people involved in the energy transition, how to motivate them. I think that the most important thing for an efficient transition is the active participation of consumers in the electricity sector.

 

 

Why it is so important to focus on the consumers and not on the companies, not on the other participants in the energy markets?

Dr. Álvaro Sánchez Miralles:

If consumers have an active voice in the electricity sector – either with local renewable generation, or helping in the stability of the electricity grid by adjusting their consumption the grid needs — they will be motivated to change their internal processes and behaviour in order to be more energy efficient. This is what it is called the inside approach. On the contrary, the outside approach is when consumers are not changing their behavior and they are waiting for big companies and governments to install renewable generation in other to avoid carbon emissions – greenwashing.

 

 

And how can you achieve more efficiency in the energy market?

Dr. Álvaro Sánchez Miralles:

Firstly, improving the energy efficiency of consumers: reducing losses in their processes and reducing demand with behavioural change approaches. Secondly, reducing the energy losses and investments in the grid, synchronizing consumption with close renewable generation and avoid consumption peaks. That is the crux of the matter. We need renewable energy, but we need renewable energy close to the consumption.

 

 

What does ReDREAM do to achieve the synchronicity?

Dr. Álvaro Sánchez Miralles:

We want to create an Ecosystem where consumers have the opportunity to actively and sustainably influence in the energy sector. This Ecosystem will have some tools to facilitate the consumer intervention and feedback, and to know the needs of the rest of the players in the energy sector. Therefore, the ecosystem is a place where consumers can work together with all the stakeholders from the energy sector to make the energy transition more efficient.

 

 

An energy ecosystem, what does that ultimately mean for the energy consumer?

Dr. Álvaro Sánchez Miralles:

The Ecosystem helps the consumers to understand how they consume, how they could be more efficient and how they can help the electricity grid. But they should not do this alone, but in an energy community, with challenges and interaction with others. We want to create the environment for this in the next two years. The Ecosystem is based on social tools to engage consumers, artificial intelligence to take the control of some of the manageable consumption and some smart devices to connect the energy resources with the Internet and the energy markets.

 

 

That means I have to actively deal with my energy consumption every day?

Dr. Álvaro Sánchez Miralles:

No, people don’t want to know much about how to control their consumption every day. Ideally, they continue to live the way they are used to. An intelligent energy system will take the control automatically – taking into account renewable production, grid needs, consumer needs, price of the electricity — without compromising their needs and they can forget about the 80% of the energy uses. Additionally, a virtual energy advisor can guide them to manage the rest 20% of the energy uses. The smart system provides a high degree of automation.

 

 

What does ReDREAM mean for the major energy suppliers?

Dr. Álvaro Sánchez Miralles:

Incumbent energy suppliers will not really like ReDREAM. ReDREAM means a new paradigm change of the energy sector. I think, it will be a big challenge for them to be able to adapt to it. However, they have to change because this is the future if we want to create a more sustainable planet.

 

 

What are the biggest challenges in the next two years of the ReDREAM project?

Dr. Álvaro Sánchez Miralles:

It will be important that people understand what we are trying to develop. That’s a really big challenge, because energy awareness is not present in the society. In fact, most people just don’t know enough about the energy sector to understand it and act accordingly. We still have many challenges with our project in some countries. It would be great to remove these barriers by improving regulation. We know the trend of European regulation, but not all countries are moving at the same speed. But I am very optimistic that all countries will be on the same level in a few years.

 

 

What will you say when you have successfully completed the project in 2023?

Dr. Álvaro Sánchez Miralles:

I will be proud of what I will have achieved together in the ReDREAM project. We will have given a big step together. I think that after three years of the project we will have the opportunity to replicate and multiply the results and developments. In this way, ReDREAM will be used in many variants and areas. But what I really hope is that we have engaged the consumer with all our efforts and they will become one of the most important actors in the energy transition in the coming decades. The goal must be to put the consumer at the centre of all our activities. Only then, we will be able to manage the biggest challenge ever seen.

 

 

Thank you Alvaro for the very exciting insight. Good luck for the coming years.

Dr. Álvaro Sánchez Miralles:

Thank you Patrick. And thank you also for the opportunity to talk about the topic in detail from a different perspective. See you next time.

Dr. Álvaro Sánchez Miralles

Alvaro has dedicated his career to research and development in the energy sector with a business development focus taking projects to market. He is driven to promote energy transition by empowering energy citizens towards a sustainable and just energy model. To this end, he is promoting a Fourth Sector business that is driven by a purpose to combine social innovation, alleviate energy poverty and drive decarbonisation of the sector. This visionary drive is grounded by his expertise in high-performance intelligent systems, energy trading and consumer engagement. He is the founder and CEO of Stemy Energy and professor at COMILLAS university in Madrid. He is a member of the MIT “Utility of the Future” and honorary member of the Spanish Industry 4.0 Observatory, has run more than 70 projects and delivered 30 high impact papers.

Dr. Álvaro Sánchez Miralles

Learn more about his work and the Comillas Institut for Research and Technology (ITT)
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