MIWenergía is a Spanish electricity retailer company with a crystal clear vision: place the consumer at the centre of every activity while maintaining a positive attitude and impact towards the environment. Moved by this vision, the company participates in numerous innovation projects that support the digitalization of its processes and result in a competitive supply service offer.
It has been exactly in the context of an EU-funded innovation project, promoted and led by the Instituto de Fomento della Regione di Murcia (InFo), that we got to know MIWenergía and Pablo Barrachina, who kindly accepted to participate in an interview for our blog and explain his involvement and his company’s ambitious goals.
U-Hopper: Hi Pablo, let’s start with a couple of simple questions: who are you and what’s your role at MIWenergía?
Pablo: Hi, I’m an Industrial Engineer and I work as a Project Manager at MIWenergía.
Can you tell us something more about MIWenergía, how it all started and what’s so cool about it?
Our company is an SME that was founded in 2013. We are an electricity retailer and energy services provider. We are very active in R&D&I projects because we believe it is the only way to differentiate ourselves from our competitors and offer new services to our clients.
Which are the main challenges and R&D objectives for MIWenergía today?
The main challenge for our company is being able to adapt to the Energy Transition that is transforming the energy market. That’s why we use the R&D projects we participate in, to learn the new possibilities this transition will bring, and know how to incorporate them in a portfolio as new services to offer to our clients.
Our collaboration stems indeed from here: inDemand-RTC is a EU project, funded under the Horizon 2020 programme, that will help MIWenergía improve its strategic positioning - by providing support for U-Hopper to prototype and validate innovative data-driven solutions for your business. Would you mind briefly describing your involvement in inDemand-RTC and the objectives of your participation in the project?
As an SME, we do not have enough resources to develop every tool or solution we need for our business. That’s the reason projects such as inDemand-RCT can provide these tools to facilitate our work.
With this project we want to exploit that large amount of data we gather every day, to be able to identify our customers' consumption patterns and predict the amount of energy we need to buy on the wholesale market in order to meet this demand.
We closely collaborate with the solvers, in this case you, U-Hopper, so the solution developed fits with our needs and really helps us to improve and take advantage of all the knowledge we can extract from the energy data we have.
The current situation of the electricity market is unsettled and quite critical: the embargo on Russian fuels has reshaped world trade and gas prices have reached incredible high levels this year. Besides the negative facets, the situation is accelerating the transition to a renewable energy market that might contribute to solving climate challenges as well as providing a solution for consumers not to suffer the volatility of market prices.
As you well say, the political and energy crisis is creating a volatile and unstable market. However, this is also an opportunity for the companies that can adapt to the new situation where not only the share of the renewable energy sources is growing but also the production is more decentralised and new mechanisms such as Demand Response allow the system to balance itself without needing extra gas production plants.
Despite the diffusion of renewable energy production plants, we still waste a lot of this energy due to insufficient and cost-ineffective storage systems. The key is therefore optimization and demand-side management, and once again RedFox and our AI-based technology might come into help. Which are your expected results in this sense?
With a precise prediction of our customers' consumption and an accurate measure of PV-generated energy in our portfolio, we can calculate baselines that optimise PV production and, therefore, maximise renewable energy sources. Advantages are not only environmental: our customers would benefit from new services and better prices, and this benefit could help us engage them into a longer relationship with our company.
Which other efforts is MIWenergía undertaking in order to support and accelerate the energy transition process towards a climate-neutral society, which is at the heart of the European Green Deal?
We have been very active in R&D&I projects, mainly in the H2020 and now Horizon Europe programmes, which have the objectives to accelerate the process to a climate-neutral society. We have worked in different projects whose goals are increasing the energy efficiency of the buildings through the implementation of smart devices and an IoT infrastructure, and transforming the consumers into prosumers that participate in the market thanks to the demand-side management.
How important is the role of single users and industries in this process? Which responsibilities do we carry?
The energy transition affects every type of user and consumer so everyone must be involved in this change. In order to achieve this climate-neutral society, we have to change the way we behave and be more energy responsibles. Of course, large industries have a big share of the total energy consumption and their actions can rapidly affect global efficiency, but we have to consider that buildings are responsible for the 40% of final energy use, and now single users can actively participate in the energy markets via an aggregator and make the difference.
How would you describe the collaboration with U-Hopper so far?
The collaboration between MIWenergía and U-Hopper has been very satisfactory so far. We have had fluent communication that is allowing the project to progress in the right direction. Thanks to the inDemand-RCT project and Instituto de Fomento de la Región de Murcia, we have been able to work together and we have found out that we share similar mentalities and vision that facilitates good cooperation between both companies.
The inDemand-RCT Project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement nº 824206.