Renewable Energies: Back to Basics

The pandemic has helped to highlight the need to take care of the planet we live in. At the same time, according to experts, the crisis that has caused will slow down the good growth rate of European wind and photovoltaic farms in the Old Continent. However, the general data on Renewable Energy production is far from negative, as shown in a report by Ember. It reveals that, for the first time in its history, in 2020, Europe produces more electricity from Renewable Energy sources (wind, water, biomass and sun) than from fossil fuels. Also, the Renewable Energy sector has recently received a boost from the Spanish Government through the measures contained in Royal Decree-Law 23/2020 of 23 June.
For this reason, at Iberian Lawyer, we wanted to talk with Javier Cabezudo Pueyo, lead counsel for South Europe & Africa and head of the Legal department in Spain at Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, the Spanish multinational and technological leader in the wind energy sector, to get to know him better and, on the other hand, to have an “inside” view of how changes in this industry are being experienced.

 

You have worked at law firms such as Garrigues, Pérez-Llorca and Cuatrecasas. What led you to work as an in-house lawyer, and why in the Energy sector?

In fact, the first nine years of my professional career I practised Law in some of the leading law firms in our country. In that “School” I learned universal and timeless values that, with perspective, have been decisive in my subsequent professional development. Effort, rigour, integrity and excellence are values that will remain unchanged despite the COVID-19, the digitalisation and the new concerns (greater leisure, ecological sensitivity or impact generation) brought by the coming generations replacing revolutionary generations Y, Z … Those generations should not ignore these universal values because they will remain unaltered for anyone who aspires to be a good lawyer at any time and place.

As for the jump to the private sphere, a decade ago I chose to continue developing my career and professional growth from another reality, to compete in the racing circuit, applying what I had learned in the “boxes” of those great “teams”. At that time, I saw a projection in the energy sector, especially in the wind energy field. Competing in this circuit is very demanding, because not only are there many curves  (and some of them very tight), but also the competition is fierce, and many of our direct competitors have already fallen on their way. I have experienced this firsthand, as I had the privilege of leading, from a legal point of view, the acquisition of the European services of one of our direct competitors in insolvency proceedings, the German Senvion Group, which we are pleased to have recently integrated into Siemens Gamesa. This operation will undoubtedly enable us to compete from a stronger position in Europe.  In any case, and as a good Basque, I took on the challenge of entering this “Formula One”. It is a “team” with strong roots, prestige and traction in the Basque Country because of its origins (our company is headquartered in Zamudio,  Spain), because it is an Ibex 35-listed company and, currently at a worldwide level because of its 444leadership position. As a leader, I  do not doubt that it will be able to overcome the significant challenges it faces in the short term. More than 100 years ago, Unamuno already anticipated a certain comical vision that “The whole world is a bigger Bilbao” and this pride will undoubtedly contribute in a decisive way.

Briefly describe your main duties and the structure of the legal advisory team you lead within Siemens Gamesa.

I could list many areas of specific advice: international contracting, procurement, wind farm sales, M&A, international mediations, etc., but the essence of Law practice can also be summarised in universal and immutable metrics: trust and integrity with our “client”. The implicit values in that trust and integrity are already outlined and remind us with crystalline clarity of our code of ethics: honest, loyal, truthful and diligent conduct, nothing more and nothing less. The term “client” may suggest contours of certain distance in the business environment, so the terminology “Business Partner” is perhaps what best reflects what that Law practice signifies in the multinational environment of private companies. In this regard, the role of the internal lawyer is also included; a vital organ within a body in constant movement that demands agile but well-founded decisions. We decide based on solid technical and legal knowledge, but we are also an active part of the decision-making process and the evaluation of the inherent risk in making such decisions. Our language must necessarily be direct, intelligible, explicit and decisive. We cannot afford a baroque language, nor a “subjunctive” one because at every second of rhetoric, the picture of the world may have moved, and the business requires quick decisions.

At the team level, I am very proud of their technical excellence and their recognition in the industry and internationally. We are a very experienced team, with outstanding seniority and diverse backgrounds (several of the team’s lawyers come from leading law firms in this country and others have over 10-12 years of experience in the industry). However, I never get tired of avoiding a distracting focus on technical excellence instead of focusing on the human factor, which is what really makes the difference and makes us unique. This is what I am most proud of (some candidates have been left on the doorstep despite their technical excellence because they did not understand it or were not up to it).  The lack of rotation in the team is another clear indicator that we have our own way of doing things and that this know-how is something to preserve and persevere with.

The Spanish Government wanted to give a boost to Renewable Energies with the Royal Decree-Law of 23 June. As legal director for Southern Europe & Africa and head of the Legal department in Spain at Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, do you think the measures it envisages are sufficient? Can the regulatory framework on the Iberian Peninsula be considered attractive for investors and Renewable Energy project generation?

I believe that this is not the right “procedural” time to judge the adequacy of the measures, since we are still going through a pandemic, so at this time I just appreciate, and in a very positive way, that these measures are already a tangible reality: Royal Decree-Law 23/2020 of 23 June, without prejudice to its necessary regulatory development, the aspects to be clarified and the new batteries of measures that will come. Making the administrative system for obtaining access and connection permits more flexible, opening the door to “hybridisation” and “storage” can only be successful. Terms such as “Renewable Energy communities” (which will allow citizens and local authorities to be partners in Renewable Energy projects in their localities) or concepts such as the “Independent Aggregator,” in line with the guidelines laid down by Community regulations, will become part of the citizen’s jargon. Without prejudice to the fact that the new creation of a system of auctions is outlined as a good lever for attracting capital to the sector, we will have to wait to know the details of the alternative framework to the specific remuneration system. The decisive impetus and the provision of powerful budgetary items will be essential to assess the real substance of our energy plans, including the electrical installations whose purpose is research and technological development. Spain has more than proven knowledge and experience over the last two decades to outline a clear and precise legislative roadmap. Our “diet” to combat this unprecedented crisis cannot be erratic. To do so hand in hand with Renewable Energies should not lead to misunderstandings, nor to following “legislative stomachache” (these are usually very indicative of an inadequate “diet” and subsequently generate an unstructured profusion of rules to combat them).

Interview by desiré vidal

To read the interview in full please download issue N.97 here

Renewable Energies:  Back to Basics

Desire Vidal

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