A TES Tale: Meet Filippo Comelli, Middle East Senior Manager at TES

July 9, 2024
Reading time: 6 min
How did you get into the renewable energy sector?
While I was completing my MSc business studies in Denmark in my early 20’s I was very much focused on securing the “coolest job out there!”. I recall, that every time I was flying back into Copenhagen, I was amazed seeing the vast array of offshore wind turbines near the city. At the time, many European governments were implementing FiT (feed-in tariff) mechanisms to support the nascent green energy industry, with Italy at the forefront of this movement. With the help of the vast networks of contacts from my MSc (as the industry was still super small!), I managed to get in touch with a then-small Danish renewable energy developer. Their focus on wind and solar project development in Italy gave me the opportunity to enter an industry that seemed exclusive to engineers! In a short period of time, I was entrusted with increasing responsibility, eventually managing and developing several projects across Italy. Ultimately, the combination of economics, engineering, stakeholder management, and the opportunity to build something that can save the planet made me fall absolutely in love with this industry!
Why did you apply to work at TES?
I was fortunate enough to be approached by a very (very!) good recruiter. In fact, at the time, I was still very happy in my position leading solar projects development and project finance globally across developing countries (a key passion of mine!). Nonetheless, when I was collaborating with C&I offtakers, I realized that it was extremely difficult with the current technologies to provide a truly green baseload power. Green hydrogen over time, as its cost competitiveness improves, can support the energy transition, in particular across the hard to abate industries. When I understood the benefits of e-NG (i.e. drop in fuel made by combining green hydrogen with recycled CO₂, which blends easily into the existing energy mix) combined with the experience and track record of our founders and senior management, I decided to join the TES adventure without thinking twice!
Describe your day-to-day role at TES in Abu Dhabi and what skills do you find most important in your job?
Being based in the Middle-East and in a beautiful city as Abu Dhabi is truly incredible from both a personal and professional perspective. The Middle East is going through tremendous changes in the way its economies are shaped with ambitious visions and targets, fortunately all these encompass green targets! In this region, projects are done at a very large scale, which makes it one of the most exciting Regions for the development of green H2 ventures. Project development, ultimately requires multiple skills as: stakeholder management, finance and economics, technical, legal etc. and all are equally important. These industrial projects highly complex due to the intricate development dynamics involved. Therefore the real value lies in having exeptional partners and great team members working closely together to achieve successful completion.
What’s the most exciting part of your role at TES working in the Middle East region?
The role is very entrepreneurial and dynamic. We are aiming to disrupt the energy sector with green molecules, much like green electrons did over a decade ago. Having seen first-hand how green electrons gained competitiveness, I am relentless with the rest of the TES team in reaching the same results! It's incredibly exciting to be part of a disruptive force driving the planet towards its Net Zero targets!
How does TES do things differently in the energy industry?
TES is defined by its people, each bringing unique talents and expertise to the table. So what sets us apart? Our energy, drive and one mission – winning the climate race with e-NG!
What’s the biggest challenge within your role?
When we see sub-$20/MWh tender results from renewable projects in the Middle East, we often forget that a decade ago, these costs were likely ten times higher. Governments had to step in to support the adoption and scaling of the industry. Similarly, more effort is required in the green H2 space. While it’s evident that we need more green power, the real challenge lies in the pace of its deployment, which is simply not fast enough.
What’s a current project you are working on that you feel will be a game changer?
To be honest, all the projects I am working on are game changers! Why? Because we are still so far from reaching net-zero targets, and each project under development with our partners significantly impacts the climate.
What part of TES’s values - We are PURPOSEFUL in winning the climate race. We are BOLD and CONFIDENT in our trajectory. We are ENTREPRENEURIAL with a heart and take ownership for doing the right things. We SUCCEED IN PARTNERSHIPS, along the whole value chain, with transparency and respect. - most resonates with you and why?
Obviously I see myself in all of these, otherwise I would not be in TES 😊. However, I think that the “ENTREPRENEURIAL” value best fits me. This has accompanied me throughout my professional journey, keeping me motivated through the ups and downs that every project developer inevitably faces!
What is the one thing you want everyone to know about electric natural gas?
That it is as simple to use as natural gas however, it is a green molecule!
What’s the one thing that people might find surprising about TES?
The diversity, drive and professionalism of all the people at TES. It is truly inspiring!
When looking at the path to decarbonizing the planet, it can seem overwhelming and perhaps even impossible, how do you validate your work in the face of naysayers?
I know that it is the right thing to do! I have a soft spot for Tesla cars. Everyone thought it was never going to work, yet I lived in Norway where EVs are the norm. Therefore, I would rather say, naysayers live in the past, I look at the future, eventually they will see what I see!