Meet Alexandre Torreele, re.alto’s new CEO
In the latest edition of our ‘Meet the re.alto team’ series, we caught up with our new CEO Alexandre Torreele to discuss his ambitions for the business and the wider industry.
You’ve been involved in the energy sector for more than a decade. Tell us a bit about your career to date?
Energy wasn’t on my radar at all when I started out in my professional career. The sector was going through liberalisation and decarbonisation of the power industry wasn’t really even on the agenda. It is only in 2008 that the climate & energy package was pushed forward by Europe and from my point of view this was the game changer for the industry.
The same year, I entered the sector via the Belgian Power Exchange (Belpex) where I stayed until 2013 and was responsible for product and market development in continental Europe.
After that, I joined the Innovation department of Elia Group (Belgium and Germany). It seemed to me that the biggest changes would come in the design and the operation of the transmission grid in Europe, and that turned out to be exactly the case! In my role, I had the opportunity to build the Strategy department, anticipating and analysingthe upcoming massive changes in the sector. Elia Group Digital strategy and re.alto are two of the fruits of this exploration.
You’ve just moved from Head of Strategy, Innovation & Digital at Elia Group to become CEO at re.alto, a relatively early stage start-up. What inspired the move?
For me, it was a unique opportunity to bring to fruition one of the key components of Elia Group’s innovation strategy. I like to say that I’m moving from the “thinking deck” to the “engine room”. Touching the ground and realising an ambition is for me as exciting as shaping the future. The agile nature of start-ups mean they’re naturally best placed to cope with and adapt to the speed of change taking place around us, and that’s a great source of motivation for me. Our international and remote team is now fully ready to deliver our new product and provide the future tools down the line to our clients to develop new energy services.
As the new CEO, what are your initial priorities and, looking longer term, what does the next 12 months look like for the business in your mind?
Our first priority is to have our Minimum Sellable Product (MSP) released on the market by the end of July. After that, the focus will be on creating traction for the market place, to cement our position and the added value we deliver within the digitalisation process of the European energy sector. I’m quite optimistic about our chances of success as the initial conversations we’ve been having with potentialclients have been promising. The market is not yet fully mature and it gives us the opportunity to offer an interesting value proposition to our clients
Despite the uncertainty of the last few months, it still feels like an exciting time to be in the energy industry as digital transformation takes hold. What opportunities does digitalisation present to energy businesses, and how do APIs fit into that?
It is the best time to be in the energy industry! APIs (Application Programming) arethe tissue of the emerging digital economy. They allow software to communicate with each other, and enable a business to create, scale or improve its own digital offering using data from another market party. re.alto offers a marketplace where business developers can find a variety of APIs to increase the value of their apps, be they B2B or aimed at an end consumer.
We facilitate the discovery of relevant APIs, handle the subscription process and provide a reliable and secure infrastructure to exchange the data. Thanks to our marketplace, market actors will be able to develop new products which directly address the needs of their clients very fast and at low cost.
You’ve highlighted decarbonisation as something that’s particularly important to you – how do digital innovators like re.alto help drive the industry towards a low carbon future?
We have a fantastic mission to accomplish together as a sector: decarbonise our society! The future source of power production will be wind and solar, which will lead inevitably to the development of a more complex and intermittent power system.
As such, there needs to be a fundamental paradigm shift to enable load to follow production, and not as it is today with production following demand. This is a huge and complex task that cannot be realized without the emergence of a digital value chain in the energy sector. Digital tools will enable us to manage that growing complexity while also ensuring that the end consumer receives the service and comfort that he demands.
What’s the ultimate aim for re.alto?
To become the first European market place for digital products and services, primarily in API format, enabling market parties to quickly and easily develop energy services for their clients. We aim to create the digital tool box that will accelerate digital developments in the power sector in Europe and deliver the value of the energy transition to the consumer.
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