Volker Beckers was Group Chief Executive Officer of RWE npower from January 2010 until December 2012. Prior to this, he had been Group Chief Financial Officer for RWE npower since 2003.
Before joining RWE npower, he was Vice President Corporate Controlling and Development at RWE Net AG in Dortmund with responsibility for Organisational Development. He previously held several senior positions at RWE Energie AG in different parts of the energy value chain. His last position before the merger with VEW Energie AG was Head of Controlling business unit grid in Essen.
He graduated from Cologne University with a master’s degree in business administration and worked for Compunet Computer AG (later General Electric, Capital Services) as Head of the Training and Education Centre before moving to the management consultancy part of the business as Division Manager responsible for Project Management Methods and IT Development Projects.
Volker Beckers is also Deputy Head of the Executive Commercial Management Committee at BDEW (German Association of Energy and Water Industries), a member of the Advisory Board of EUCERS and was a member of the Finance and Economics Focus Group at Eurelectric until 2010. He is also a Fellow of the Energy Institute.
Interview with Volker Beckers
Volker Beckers is Non-Executive Director at the UK government’s tax department, HM Revenue & Customs, and Advisor at King's College London. He is also non-executive director at Elexon Ltd, which plays a role at the heart of the wholesale electricity market. He was formerly CEO of UK-based RWE npower, a gas and electricity supplier. We asked him about his participation in the forthcoming 2013 Erasmus Energy Forum event on 21 June.
What do you find most interesting about the Erasmus Centre for Future Energy Business?
I would position the Centre as ‘multi-faceted with academic underpinning’. The topics are not just focused on one theme. The Centre is diverse, and looks at the whole infrastructure for energy, which is helpful.
What’s the most useful feature of the Erasmus Energy Forum event?
Two things; first, the networking opportunities, which I personally think are important.
Second, I believe that the energy industry is at a junction, and is changing quite dramatically. It means that some businesses must reinvent their business model or find new products or markets. So a focus on the development of smart devices and technologies is interesting. Bringing them to the Forum will stimulate and possibly enable these changes.
Why will participants find your presentation Electricity Market Reform (in the UK) useful?
Associated with the changes in the energy industry, there is the question of what this means for politicians who must pave the way for those pending changes. My presentation addresses the energy industry in the UK, which has been seen as most advanced in terms of liberalisation and competitiveness. This country has very ambitious targets to further reform its markets. The audience at the Forum will see what challenges the UK industry is facing and how difficult the situation is. There is some encouragement in terms of what they want to see developed, but there’s a sobering message when it comes to what has been achieved so far.
Will your presentation contain any exclusives?
In a way, yes. I’ll be asking the question ‘Can the UK become a template for other EU states?’ This is the first time I will have presented this in front of a combined audience – of academics, industry representatives and politicians.
Which of our other speakers or presentations are you most interested in hearing, and why?
I’m interested in all of them. There’s a good mix.
Can you give an indication of the changes you think are necessary for the energy market?
If one accepts that the energy market has to change dramatically and exists in different settings, then all the new and different dimensions require a framework fit for purpose. There will be more smart technology in the grid and in homes; we will see ‘batteries-on-wheels’ and e-mobility in all its forms as bikes and cars; and we will see new groups in the mix of suppliers, generators and customers.
While we see these developments already starting to happen, the framework hasn’t been updated. First, it’s crucial we in Europe decide whether or not we should have a free liberalised market, or do politicians believe that markets have failed and need regulation? My view is that new technology – including those we don’t even know about yet – cannot be regulated. Competition between existing and emerging technologies is needed and thus more regulation doesn’t seem to be the answer intuitively. Second, the new framework needs to be fit for purpose.
What are your goals?
Given my background in the industry and my new role as non-executive director in various organisations, I think can help to become an enabler of the changes needed in the future. My personal goal is to contribute to changes by informing and helping businesses to develop their new models and indeed hopefully create what we all want, which is cleaner – but not necessarily more expensive – energy, and a secure supply. Those are the three targets.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I want to have achieved my goals, as I have described, and at least to have been a key contributor who recognised the changes needed. My heart and mind is most definitely with infrastructure and energy. The industry keeps changing; that makes me stay keen, interested and curious. I want to make and facilitate the changes it needs.