Opening the first Business Beyond Borders (BBB) event, which took place on the 28th February and 1st March at Genera, Madrid, was Mr Daniel Navia, the Spanish Secretary of State for Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda. In his keynote opening address, the Secretary of State emphasised that initiatives such as Business Beyond Borders enable a closer cooperation between the public and private sectors, as well as between enterprises themselves.
Fresh out of a Council of Ministers of Energy meeting in Brussels (where the Winter Package for energy was discussed), Secretary of State Navia chose the BBB event at Genera to outline the efforts being made at European level to build on the current transition phase in the energy sector.
“We need to be at the forefront of this transition. We need to do this in an intelligent fashion” said the Spanish Secretary of State for Energy, who made clear that most EU member states share this opinion. “We need to find a way to make this transition work for all the players involved…enterprises, the firms that are involved, the private sector here, the users of energy, firms outside the energy sector who are users of energy, and society at large. There is a strong demand for cheaper and cleaner energy. It is a very important debate, and I encourage you to participate in this European debate as broadly as possible”.
Speaking directly to the SMEs and clusters that took part in the first BBB matchmaking event, Mr. Navia encouraged them to adapt their projects and ideas towards a long-term approach. For the Spanish Secretary of state, the key requirement for an energy and environmental business to succeed is the way such businesses approach technological change. As such, Mr. Navia listed four main points that every energy business must take into account if they hope to be included in what he called “the list of more efficient and desirable technologies”:
- Financial responsibility – for the Secretary of State, this is highly relevant point, as technologies that create permanent costs to consumers cannot expect to thrive in the long-term. “In the medium term, the objective has to be having technologies that work for the user and, at the same time, are cheaper for the user”, said Mr. Navia, who encouraged the enterprises present to make use of the public financial instruments available to them to make their energy projects more cost-effective.
- Commitment to environmental sustainability – on this particular point, the Spanish Secretary of State for Energy emphasised that this outcome can only be achieved if all EU member states honour their pledge to reach the established EU renewable and environmental targets. At the same time, he warned against setting unrealistic targets, as “that would be damaging to the whole process… and has a cost in terms of credibility, and for investors, and citizens”, said Navia. Nevetherless, he encouraged all parties involved to work together with the European Union and overcome barriers to environmental sustainability; once this is done, “we are going to be much more ambitious in our renewable targets”.
- Flexibility – this is perhaps the most important point for Mr Navia, who does not think that the normative “tendency to have a very definitive qualification of what is considered as the energy of the future” is beneficial to the progress of the energy sector. “Maybe some technologies you are trying to develop today are expensive, but with the proper investment, with the proper efforts, are going to be cheaper and cleaner in the future”, pointed out the Spanish Secretary of State for energy. “What we are going to do is to find the least costly alternative at each point in time.”
- Digitalisation – as a final point, the Secretary of State made the link between energy and digitalisation, two areas that are under the tutelage of his Ministry. “I think there’s potential in technologies to digitise energy systems; I’m thinking about demand management, I’m thinking about what you can do with a smart storage solution, or what you can do to supervise and provide information to the consumers”, emphasising how critical it is to bring both areas together in the upcoming years. “I encourage you to provide us ideas, to bring forward your suggestions and your projects so that we can discuss them, analyse them with you and have the information of what is developing on your side”.
Wishing the SMEs and clusters present a fruitful two days of discussions and new business opportunities, the end of Daniel Navia’s speech marked the official opening of the Business Beyond Borders matchmaking session at Genera.