Welcome Massimiliano Cervo: New Expert in the Clean Power Community - [an Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Expert Interview]

Posted to Energy Central in the Clean Power Professionals Group
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Matt Chester's picture
Energy Analyst Chester Energy and Policy

Official Energy Central Community Manager of Generation and Energy Management Networks. Matt is an energy analyst in Orlando FL (by way of Washington DC) working as an independent energy...

  • Member since 2018
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  • Apr 29, 2021

The energy industry is changing left and right—no matter where you stand on the hotly debated issues of the day, that fact does not change. The clean power community is one of the most vibrant areas where this transformation is taking place, and the leadership behind this evolution is always worth keeping a close eye on.

At Energy Central, we tap into leading thinkers in the industry to serve as the expert guidance, advisors, and voices for all of our members. Shepherding conversation of latest developments, asking (and answering!) the tough questions, and more—these are all daily tasks for experts in the energy industry. We take that a step further by formalizing this process with the Energy Central Network of Experts.

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The latest member of this identified network of experts is Massimiliano Cervo. Massimiliano is an Energy Leader focused on hydrogen at the World Energy Council. And as we welcome as an official expert under the Clean Power Group, Massimiliano was kind enough to answer some of my burning interview questions—keep reading to learn about his background and his vision of the future!

Matt Chester: Let us start simple—the goal of these interviews is to introduce you and your expertise to our community, so they know where and when to look for your expertise. So, I will give you the floor to do just that: what is your background in the energy industry and what do you do today?

Massimiliano Cervo: I have a background in Finance, recently got my FMVA, and now I am aiming for my CFA. I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry and I’m now doing my Master’s in science in Victoria University in Wellington. I am a member of the experts panel for the World Energy Council, and that is how I got into the energy industry, thanks to CACME (the Argentinian Energy Council) where I got involved with the issues monitor and energy trilemma. I discovered my passion with hydrogen when I took my courses of electrochemistry, I thought of the endless possibilities of producing clean hydrogen.


Matt: With such a focus on hydrogen energy as a resource for the future, I wonder if you can share a specific project that is in development or in the works that has you most excited for its ability to demonstrate the transformative ability of hydrogen energy.

Massimiliano: When it comes to smart cities, a great vision would be the one of Masdar, it is an amazing concept, which I believe should begin to expand globally. Turning onto hydrogen, I have my eyes on Canada as a hydrogen hub, the projects in Aberdeen, and lately the developments in Brazil.

Matt: Obviously, hydrogen energy is also not without its detractors. Can you share one criticism of hydrogen that you think is unfounded or not an issue, and one criticism that you perhaps agree with that you think needs to be addressed?

Massimiliano: I believe that one misconception when it comes to hydrogen is thinking only on the energy balance and when it comes to efficiency, because that is not a fair comparison. We need to put things into the right context. For instance, hydrogen can actually decarbonize multiple sectors, where a cable with an electron cannot, and that is what makes me so passionate about this sector.

Regarding the challenges, I believe that the market is yet being developed, we need to shift our focus from the production to the offtaker approach-- thinking who is going to buy it and if it is going to be better to do it on site or with a distribution scheme.


Matt: As you look at the utility sector, what do you think they should be doing today to prepare for a future that involves hydrogen? If you had the ear of a CEO of a major utility company, what would you say to him or her?

Massimiliano: The utility sector should increase the installed capacity of renewables in order for hydrogen to work, first due to the increase of scale and lower PPAs and second because this will mitigate the impact on the grid.


Matt: As an expert on Energy Central, we are looking forward to the insights you are going to be able to bring. Can you share what it is about Energy Central that compelled you to get involved and integrated with the community? And what should community members look forward to you bringing to the table as our newest expert?

Massimiliano: This community is a great way to get involved in the updates of the energy sector. I am at the disposal of members for any enquiries regarding hydrogen, financial models for the energy sector and business modelling.


Matt: What’s your parting message to the Energy Central Community reading this today?

Massimiliano: I want to express my gratitude to the community for receiving me as a hydrogen expert.

And last I would like to clarify that hydrogen is not a competitor of the renewable energy sector, nor the oil and gas; rather it is actually an integrator that could add flexibility and offer another possibility for the energy transition towards a more sustainable future. There is enough room for several solutions, we are all working for the same target, and our focus should be building a more secure, sustainable, and affordable energy system.



Thanks to Massimiliano Cervo for joining me for this interview and for providing a wealth of insights an expertise to the Energy Central Community. You can trust that Massimiliano will be available for you to reach out and connect, ask questions, and more as an Energy Central member, so be sure to make him feel welcome when you see him across the platform.

The other expert interviews that we’ve completed in this series can be read here, and if you are interested in becoming an expert then you can reach out to me or you can apply here.

Steve Padgett's picture
Steve Padgett on May 4, 2021

Massimiliano: “The utility sector should increase the installed capacity of renewables in order for hydrogen to work, first due to the increase of scale and lower PPAs and second because this will mitigate the impact on the grid.”   I DEFINITELY NEED SOME MORE EXPLANATION OR EXAMPLES TO HAVE ANY IDEA OF THE  MEANING OF THAT STATEMENT 

Thank you, Steve Padgett 



Massimiliano Cervo's picture
Massimiliano Cervo on May 6, 2021

Steve, if we increase our installed capacity of electrolyzers, and they are fed with electricity from the grid, this will unbalance the grid, hence reducing the amount of renewables in the electric grid available for dispatch. On the other hand, If we wanted to decarbonize all of the existing hydrogen production through renewable powered electrolysis, this would require around 3,600 TWh/Yr this is a large amount of renewables needed.

Mark Howitt's picture
Mark Howitt on May 18, 2021

I agree that the future of hydrogen is in decarbonising sectors where wires can't reach: heating, transportation, the gas grid and certain parts of industry. In these it has a really huge future. But the technologies that deliver high-volume low-cost electrolysis are just not being supported, so clean hydrogen is only via small-and-expensive membrane technology and large, expensive and noxious alkali/acid processes. These other ones really need funding.

Where it shouldn't have a future is in decarbonising the electricity system. Flexing intermittent generation is only half the equation; delivering it as dispatchable (= variable on demand) power is the other half. In order to deliver both sides of the equation, hydrogen has a maximum theoretical round-trip efficiency of mid-40s %, with only low-30s % achieable currently, and much higher capital and operational costs than Storelectric's ~70% efficient CAES.

I wrote some more detail in this blog article.

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