A chat with an expert of the energy market: Christopher Stahel

Christopher Stahel Energy Expert Interview Nvalue

When did your journey in the energy market start, and how did you get in touch with Nvalue?

My journey started quite a long time ago, in the 90s, when I started studying environmental engineering and encountered this industry. Afterwards, I started working for Energieforum Schweiz, a company located in Bern that worked in energy policies and was involved in the discussions with the parliament regarding opening the electricity market in Switzerland. That one was a good start for me, even though I always enjoyed more the business side of it, rather than the political one. This is the reason that led me to move to atel in Olten, where I started working in business development and got to know Alessandro Faccoli and Fabio Mancin. That was 15 years ago! After I left, I joined the gas industry and started working for Energie 360°, one of the biggest gas utilities in Switzerland. Then, after another two years, I left the company and founded my own. I met Fabio Mancin again a few months ago through a mutual client, and that is how we decided to start cooperating.


You started your career in traditional energy and gas markets, have you always wanted to end up working in renewable energy or was it something that came naturally along the way?

Ten years ago, I was not involved in renewable energy, and during my time in Olten we did business development in power, coal, oil and gas, but not in renewable energy. Then I entered the gas industry and realized that a change was needed in the industry, and therefore I came back to where I started by studying environmental engineering and focused again on renewable, like a circle that comes together in the end.


It’s been a few months now that you’ve been collaborating with Nvalue, what do you like the most about the company?

Nvalue is completely different from other similar companies in the field. I think it has exactly what the market needs right now: the speed and the ability to identify opportunities and seizing them by a fast decision process.  Once I get to know it more closely I appreciated the great professionalism, but most of all I was positively surprised by its team, especially the one in Varna, that is very knowledgeable also in the Swiss market. This is not so common and it means that the internal information flow and training are aspects that are well cared for and that work well. In addition, I was impressed by the motivation that the team has, especially in younger employees. This is something that we rarely see from Swiss young people, as they grow in a privileged environment, while Nvalue’s employees really believe in what they do and feel as pioneers in the market, which, I think, is what keeps motivating them. In this sense, the international approach that Nvalue has is definitely a strength in terms of freshness and motivation. Also, the company does not have a complicated organizational structure and decisions are taken in a very fast and simple way. Before I started the cooperation with Nvalue, I asked some friends in the market if they knew the company, and they all answered that it was a good name, with a lot of experience, fast responding and always available. I would define Nvalue as a very customer-oriented company, which is something that is very different from the classical gas utility: this flexibility is something that the actors in the market look for and would like to imitate.


Which opportunities do you think Nvalue could seize with your help?

I think that with my help the company will gain a deeper understanding of the customers’ needs, while creating new products and alliances in the gas industry, thus allowing scaling up the size of the business. The importance of such new alliances is something I have been very committed to during the last five years and is definitely one of my main goals and objectives also in Nvalue.


From your experience and daily activities, which are the perceptions that customers currently have on the green gas market and what are their expectations?

My impression is that while in the past many believed that green economy and renewables were just a temporary hype, now they realized that this is something that is here to stay, also due to the global climate discussion and the recurring votes on these topics. It is now more clear to the market players that a company or a utility do not have the privilege of a choice anymore, a change in the way of doing business is needed. What our customers need right now are the means, competences, network and strategy to go in this direction, and we are here to help them, while also contributing to the development of this market.


Thank you very much for sharing some of your experience with us. To conclude, what motivates you to keep working in renewable energy and natural gas, and do you see your career proceeding this way?

Absolutely, it could sound as an “utopian” affirmation, but I believe that we can make the difference and actively create our future by having a concrete impact on it. We are already seeing that the old economy is now changing its way of doing business and personally I want to be part of this change. In the last twenty years, while working in the energy sector, I realized that we can make things happen with our doing, and that’s why I never liked just performing regular routinely administration. I like to take an active part, to try new ideas and also be ready sometimes to fail, because failure is necessary to learn and grow. In the gas industry, big utilities often take no risks, but a change of paradigm is necessary, it must be allowed to fail and take some risks, especially when speaking of the green transition, because the way has still to be paved for this sector, and uncertainties come along with the lack of experience. However, if you stay still and do not face uncertainty, you will not be able to seize opportunities either, and the hidden risk behind immobility, is to miss progress and innovation.

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