When and how did you enter the industry?
I started in the industry 2004 when I did my master thesis at Energy Opticon. The idea that we are saving the environment with reduced CO2 emissions and at the same time can save money for the energy companies was really rewarding for me, so when I was offered a job after my thesis, I gladly accepted.
What was your first job in Energy Opticon?
My first job was within Sales & Marketing, but I also worked with customer service to learn their systems. I logged in remotely to the client machines and checked so that the system worked each week. This was very useful for me to really understand the system now that I am working with Management and Innovation.
What is your current role?
I am CFO, Chief Financial Officer, and also head of our amazing Innovation team.
Can you introduce your company and its products or services you offer?
Our company was founded in 1989 by the owner, Dr Björn Malmström, and has been a stable and trusted long-term partner for energy companies ever since. Our software for economic total optimization of energy systems, Energy Optima 3, is used by over 50 energy companies, mainly in Europe but also in other parts of the world. It includes both short- and long-term production planning, load and price forecasts, optimization of the heat network and tools for energy trading.
We have big international partners within the automation business for broader total offers and support in local languages.
What makes Energy Opticon unique?
Well, first of all, no one else on the market offers such advanced software tools for economic total optimization of energy systems – from the production site to the heat network and to the energy trading side. Secondly, we have an advanced graphical editor which is connected to measurements, forecasts and optimizations, where the clients themselves get to build up their energy system. And – this the third thing – the deep involvement of the end users is a part of our unique Know-How-Elevator program. This aims to build up the user’s own knowledge from the beginning of the delivery project in such a solid way that they don’t need to spend large amounts of money on consultancy costs after the delivery is finished.
Fourthly, we always follow the latest developments on the energy market and create new tools and services to always predict and offer what our customers need.
Finally, we have big international partners, such as Valmet Automation and Siemens Energy, for broader total offers and service in the local language. Energy Opticon’s service staff is highly appreciated by our users, and is only a phone call away (always single-point-of-contact).
What is the most interesting project or the accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career?
I am proud of the work I do every day and there are many accomplishments that I consider significant. I think the one that I consider most significant is the Smart Optima Heat Network (SOHN) project, a unique development of optimization of the forward temperature, which has been a great success, both in terms of the unique technical solution but also since it works to lower the forward temperature and save money and CO2 emissions in the district heating networks that it is installed in.
What do you think will be the biggest challenges for the energy providers?
- Maintaining an economic energy production with so many variables affecting the economy that are involved in the entire energy system – energy production, heating networks, consumers/prosumers and energy trading.
- With the introduction of renewable energies, such as solar and wind energy, the incomes from electricity have in general decreased. In addition to this, the swings in the electricity prices have become very big and hard to predict. Sometimes it is profitable to produce electricity, sometimes not (even during the same day).
- Reaching climate goals, lowering CO2 emissions.
- Optimizing the heating network, using it for thermal storage and avoiding peak loads.
- Electric storage.
- Converting or upgrading their old energy systems to new, efficient and flexible ones.
Do you have any predictions for the future of energy providers and your solutions?
I think that smart IT solutions for energy providers, such as Energy Optima 3, will be more and more important for energy companies as they seek to maintain their profits. Also, climate technologies will be of higher importance, such as CCS (Carbon Capture Storage) and energy production with hydrogen fuel. The energy companies need to start seeing the energy system in a broader perspective, which includes heating networks and consumers/prosumers. More collaboration between energy producers will be seen, such as connection of heating networks between different cities and between industries and energy companies. New types of partnerships will appear to increase profits and competitiveness and decrease environmental impact. A high level of digitalization, advanced optimization and flexible energy systems is the future for the energy companies.
What advice would you give to somebody starting out in the energy sector?
To try to think in terms of the total picture and to keep up with digitalization. In order to reach efficiency and the financial goals of the energy company today, you should try not to use silo thinking. This could result in sub optimizations and revenue loss. The energy system is one whole system from trading, to production, to the district heating network, to the consumers, to renewables etc. It is the total picture that gives the most efficiency and highest profits.