“Until five years ago, the sector was in denial. Now, people understand that renewables are essential. Electrification is key to save the planet,” said António Mexia, chief executive of Portuguese electricity and gas provider EDP.
The executive believes we are in the middle of a revolution in the energy sector, which is critical to keeping the planet safe.
In the near future, there will be a tight link between regulation and innovation, while renewables will continue to be the best pick for a lighter energy bill, with close to zero marginal cost, he said. “There must be a push for renewables. Change your behavior and push people to change theirs.”
He added that by 2040, it will be possible for EDP to operate electrical systems based on 100% renewable sources and without any contribution from fossil fuels.
“We have no alternative. If we don’t make the climate agenda our agenda, we will have a degrading planet,” he said.
Mexia added that renewables already represent more than 75% of production. However, he did not deny the role of gas, since “renewables are not available 24 hours per day” and it is necessary to combine several sources to assure energy efficiency. He did recognize, however, that “renewables are the cheapest and most efficient technology to generate energy”.
Talking about the future of the fossil fuels that are still part of the company’s assets, he said they will be “key during the energy transition”, especially gas. At a more advanced stage, he said, he considers a solution based on gas and hydrogen.
pv magazine spoke to the head of EDP Innovation, Luís Manuel, about its presence at the event and the company’s main projects in the PV sector.
“We came here looking for good ideas, good people and good companies that may bring something new and different to what EDP already does. This is why we have this whole show going on,” he said.
Manuel explained this had been the best edition so far, with more than 300 ideas presented at the EDP stand with a good few hours to go until the end of the event, compared to a total of 170 ideas the previous year.
The company was one of the main exhibitors, with a very popular “knock-out” pitch session for any start-ups willing to present their products to investors.
According to Manuel, the role of PV is undeniable when talking about the future of the energy sector. “The figures already show us what it is … PV energy is now counting on just under 600 GW globally at the moment and many people are saying that 2020 will be the year of PV, when it will surpass the most disseminated source of clean renewable generation,” he said, referring to wind power.
“And while wind power tends to be predominantly centralized [and] utility scale, PV is not quite the same,” he said. “There is a huge growth in distribution, BIPV [building-integrated PV], in large and medium enterprises, at a residential level. We believe this will be one of the most dominant sources of power generation.”
In March, EDP announced in a filing with the Portuguese Securities Market Commission that its strategic update for 2019-2022 will include more investment in renewables and a plan to dispose of conventional generation assets.
The statement was made by the company after Reuters reported EDP was preparing a sale of generation assets and the ECO website said the utility could invest up to €7 billion in new renewable energy projects.
By Nádia Morais
This copy was amended on 22/11/19 to remove reference to EDP being a Portuguese state-owned enterprise. Chinese state-owned entity China Three Gorges Corporation is currently the largest shareholder in the listed company.