Combining solar and wind energy: How three KIC InnoEnergy students won the EDP Power Trade Competition

Who is EDP Group?

Only the hottest energy company to work for in Portugal! As a major European operator, they are well known for their commitment to transparency, sustainability and excellence in economic management and social environment. They offer top-notch university programs and endeavour to create a better energy future with their expert pool of diverse talents. And the lucky winners of this year’s competition get to dive into that pool.

 

Meet the triumphant trio – TEAM IBERGY

The talented KIC InnoEnergy School students that conquered this year at the EDP Power Trade University Competition are Álvaro González Fontana (CFaAFE), Albert Graells Vilella (RENE) and Christian Lorenzo Lozano (RENE) who formed the “Ibergy Team” – a catchy name that reflects the Iberian Peninsula and their focus on energy. All high-level engineers and experienced in business strategy, the three formed a “harmonic team that really complimented each other”. Considering the extensive time and effort put into this compelling project – it’s a good thing they all got on well together!

 

The Competition

The concept behind the EDP Power Trade University Competition is to promote greater interconnection between universities and the business world, allowing students to experience the real life energy market game of today – from management skills to strategic decision making. There’s no better way to get a feel for all the different variables and obstacles that exist in the present day energy market than to actually compete in it. And that’s exactly what they did.

 

How the game is played

Phase I (Power Trade) involved assuming the role of the manager who must use strategy to find innovative solutions for the EDP Group – a virtual simulation where energy is traded. Teams generate and sell their energy in the spot market, using careful cunning and planning during several rounds. Thirty-six teams entered in 6 separate rounds (theirs was in November 2015), and only the top team from each round that achieved the highest market share and dividends moved on to Phase II. “You could say we took it in the last round really”, explains Albert, “Ours was a long-term strategy since in the first rounds we were the only ones who decided to invest in new power plants in order to have more capacity in the future. Because of this, at the beginning we were not as profitable as the other teams. However, in the last rounds the market required more capacity and we were the only team able to meet the increased demand.” Well played.

 

Phase II (Business Case) gave the six remaining teams three months to develop a business case. So in February 2016, they began the heavy work with the guidance of their assigned EDP councillor and topic (based on their request) of strategy in renewable energy. The team worked long distance until the last month where they could all come together in Lisbon and put on the finishing touches. “Everything we’d done up to this point: the research, the marketing strategy legwork… all of it came together even better than expected”, beamed Christian. The team developed software to enable them to compare financial, logistic and performance indicators of installing different solar capacities in various real wind power plants in Spain – but the real clincher was that this was an actual tangible solution capable of worldwide application. “This part was really quite exciting… the project was about increasing solar profitability by installing a solar power plant in an already existing wind power plant, so some costs were shared and we were able to decrease CAPEX and OPEX”, revealed Álvaro.
Phase III was presentation time! The KIC InnoEnergy School team presented their case alongside 5 other finalists in May 2016, and endured what Christian described as a “gruelling Q&A”. Team Ibergy were first to present and faced the jury head-on. You could see the experience was still fresh, provoking a tense laugh, “They had a lot more questions than we’d expected, but we were spot on. All this prep and work… it all came down to these final minutes. We aced it!” Although they do admit that it was really a close competition between them and a team from Madrid. Albert shared what put their team over the top – “They clearly appreciated the fact that we have created a real tool that can already be used now by any company from EDP Group”. “Even so… those 40 minutes the jury spent deliberating… wow… that was stressful”, with everyone nodding solemnly in agreement. But there’s no real victory unless you are up against top competition – and they proudly walked away as the winners.

 

To the victors go the spoils…

So what did the successful KIC InnoEnergy School students win? They are now the proud recipients of a highly coveted full-time internship for each one of them in this exciting company of EDP Group, one of the biggest of its kind in Europe. Congratulations team Ibergy – well deserved!

When asked for some parting words from our winners, Alvaro offered, “With so many countries dropping their support for renewable energy, we need to come up with strategies to make it more marketable. The innovation really needs to be done in the business model.” Christian added, “And we also encourage other students to participate in programs such as this competition – not just for the learning experience and the possibility to win, but also because it was really quite fun!”