30 October 2020
Interview with Adolfo Rebollo, CEO of Ingeteam
We sat down with Adolfo Rebollo to discuss developments in the wind industry, the growth of wind energy technologies, and the impact of COVID-19.
Can you tell our readers a little about your organisation?
Ingeteam is an international technological group specialised in electric power conversion. Our technology in power and control electronics (converters, controllers and protections), electric machines (Indar motors, generators and submersible motor and pumps sets), systems (electrical engineering and automation projects), and services (operation & maintenance services), enables us to provide the best solutions in sectors such as wind energy, solar PV, hydro and fossil fuel power generation; metal and mineral processing; mining; marine; rail traction; water; e-vehicle charging and power grid automation, always achieving sustainable and efficient energy generation, transmission, distribution and consumption.
Ingeteam is the power conversion one-stop shop for wind turbine OEMs. We design, develop, manufacture and provide a comprehensive range of electrical components for wind turbines. We also include O&M services among our offerings, for all existing wind turbines, on and offshore.
The company is the leading supplier of wind energy converters and Indar wind generators. We have supplied the wind industry with 50 GW worth of wind turbines to date. Our Power Grid Automation business has supplied the wind sector with almost 400 substation automation systems. In addition, we are among the leading independent service providers, #1 in LATAM and Spain, and we provide O&M services to wind energy projects totaling 9 GW worldwide.
The company has a global footprint, employing more than 4,000 people in 24 countries. R&D is the backbone of our business, with 5% of total turnover invested annually in our technology.
What are the most exciting developments you have seen in the wind industry?
Developments in the wind industry advance at high speed because of the efforts every player is putting into reducing the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE). This is affecting the whole value chain, driving OEMs firstly and all sub-suppliers (tier 1 to tier n) subsequently to improve their competitiveness.
From the technology standpoint, we have seen onshore wind turbines exceeding what everyone expected years ago. Onshore wind has achieved this together with a constant optimisation of costs, thus making it a profitable business in almost every regulatory scenario. Also, DFIG technology has been able to overcome all technical constraints, including grid compliance, becoming the standard for high power too, ranging up to 6MW and above.
The offshore part of the industry has finally kicked off and power installation has been continuously increasing, confirming it is a solid business itself. The market is pushing current limits to reach above and beyond. What we all thought was a large wind turbine just a few years ago, is small when we compare them with the new “mammoths” being launched in the market today, ranging 12MW and above.
The digital world has already conquered the wind industry, although there is still a lot of room for improvement and expansion. This development is having a transformational impact on the way products operate, teams work, and services are provided.
What changes would you like to see in the wind industry?
We expect to see a stabilisation in the LCOE that will give the industry the opportunity to settle and gain strength for present and future challenges. The wind energy industry is project-focused and thus both opportunities and risks are quite sensitive to the specific conditions. Time-to-market has been shortening, both for technological developments and for project deployment, in an effort to reduce costs throughout the value chain. Sustainable business needs to be found and created in this current situation.
From a regulatory point of view, we would like to see certain markets, such as India, getting back on their feet with solid regulations that incentivise investment in new wind projects. This should go hand in hand with proper grid architecture and connection infrastructure to enable a smooth integration of additional wind energy capacity. From a wind turbine point of view, available technology can help existing or old wind turbines bridge the gap and become grid code compliant.
Going forward, what role do you see your organisation playing in the future development of wind energy
Our key driver is to match or exceed our customers’ expectations. We strive to offer the best technology and the strongest wind sector understanding, to help our clients improve their competitiveness. When it comes to generation assets, it all boils down to cost, performance and availability-reliability. Let us remember that the current global energy system accounts for 75% of greenhouse gas emissions. In this context, making wind energy more and more competitive will be instrumental in providing the decarbonised electrical generation backbone needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions globally and tackle the climate crisis effectively.
The Ingeteam Group is present in 24 countries worldwide. This allows us to be very close to the wind projects and our customers’ operations. This is key when you want to offer the most competitive technical solutions and the best service.
How has WindEurope membership benefited your organisation?
WindEurope connects us with the companies that matter the most to our business and helps the industry shape policy to respond to the main challenges that our business faces. Also, their Market Intelligence provides us with exclusive insights to help us set the right strategy moving forward.
If we look ten years ahead, what do you hope to have achieved?
In ten years’ time, Ingeteam would like to continue being one of the top power conversion suppliers for the wind industry, very close to our clients-partners, supporting them in their search for new value creation through the supply of a wide range of products, such as power converters and generators, and services for control monitoring and O&M.
From a technical perspective, we believe we will be in a strong position to keep supplying high tech solutions to the market. Digitalisation and cybersecurity will certainly be the basis of all our products and services, following the trend that we already see today.
How has Ingeteam been responding to the COVID-19 crisis?
The impact Covid-19 is having on our communities is tremendous and is ongoing. It changed the way we interact, the way we live. The number one priority at all our sites and facilities has been to ensure safety measures for all employees. We took it seriously from day one. The challenge has been to do so while trying to maintain activity levels. Fortunately, we have been able to maintain activities in the different fields of action without significant disruptions. Our people made the difference here, since they were the ones putting the extra effort day in and day out. We all wear facemasks, we increased distances, we use sanitiser constantly, and have traveling restrictions in place.
How do you think the COVID-19 crisis will impact on the wind industry in the long-term?
It is only fair to say that the wind industry, at least in the short-term, has been affected. But in the long-term, it is setting a new pace to decarbonisation goals, the new Green Deal is stronger than ever, so in fact this will turn out to be an opportunity to meet international climate goals while boosting economic growth, creating millions of jobs and improving human welfare faster.
The lasting impact and the pace of global recovery will depend on the actions that we all take over the coming months and years. Governments need to restrain from rolling back on emission standards or providing economic bailouts to fossil-fuel intensive industries and aim at “Re-building Better for the future”. Wind energy will do its part by creating millions of jobs and delivering clean and cheap energy needed for a sustainable economic recovery.