Alessandro explores the future of the European energy market
Alessandro Crosara graduated from the master's programme in Electric Power Engineering in 2019. He now works at AFRY with a diverse range of clients across all areas of the energy transition.
At what company and with what are you working at the moment?
I’m currently working as an analyst at AFRY, the company into which Pöyry and ÅF recently rebranded. In the Oxford office, where I am based, we focus on Energy Management Consulting, that is, we advise a diverse range of clients across all areas of the energy transition. The energy sector is changing quickly: decarbonisation, decentralisation and digitalisation bring both challenges and opportunities for all stakeholders. Some of the work we do includes: developing our suite of in-house energy models; delivering our recognised independent market reports; supporting clients in transactions, or with their renewables strategy; carrying out studies about decarbonization, or the future perspectives for hydrogen, or e-mobility, etc. In a few words, lots of exciting stuff!
Myself, after trying out different types of projects I’ve recently joined an ongoing project which aims at defining how the European energy markets will look like from now until 2060.
What can a regular day look like at your job?
Days can be very different, depending on the project(s) I’m working on. At the moment, most of my time goes into modelling the scenario I’m responsible for in our European electricity market tool, and iteratively update it based on the results of each run and on the feedback received from the various country experts we have. We have a bunch of meetings every week, as well as a lunch training where someone presents a project they’ve recently worked in – an useful opportunity to learn more about diverse topics in the energy domain. Oh, and every other Friday at 3pm there’s cake to celebrate birthdays!
Have you worked with anything else since you graduated?
After finishing my MSc, I spent 7 months working as a research engineer at the Division of Electric Power and Energy Systems at KTH. My work involved analysing the generation adequacy of the Nordic and Baltic electric power systems in different future scenarios, generated within the Flex4RES project. I created a model running Monte Carlo simulations, in order to estimate the probability of load loss in each system zone, for 3 scenarios characterized by different interconnection level and system flexibility.
Together with my supervisors, I also wrote a conference paper on the topic. It was definitely an enriching experience which allowed me to expand my knowledge on the subject, to improve my programming skills, to have useful discussions with Svenska Kraftnät, and to gain more research experience before transitioning to a consultancy job.
Why did you choose this programme at KTH?
I chose this programme for a number of reasons. First of all, after my BSc in Energy Engineering – which I did at the University of Padua, Italy – I was looking forward to undertaking an international experience and doing a MSc abroad seemed the best choice to me. KTH is a highly ranked university internationally, and in addition to this I had been fascinated by and I was curious about the Scandinavian culture. Lastly, this programme was entirely in English (as well as basically all MSc programmes are at KTH, which is not the case for many other European universities for example) and had a massive amount of elective courses, allowing students to specialize in several study tracks depending on one’s interest, which I though was awesome.
Are there any insights you acquired during your studies that have been extra useful for you in your career?
I feel like my MSc at KTH prepared me in an excellent way for my current job. From a technical side, certainly some of the most interesting courses I took on power systems and electricity markets are extremely useful for what I am doing today. On the other hand, having got to now a bit about topics such as applied linear optimization, machine learning, Monte Carlo simulations, etc. and having improved my programming skills, provided me with some diverse competencies which have turned out and will turn out useful as well!
From a general skills perspective, doing a MSc fully in English is certainly one of the most effective ways for a non-native speaker like to me to boost their English. Last but not least, I improved a lot my time management capability thanks to the courses’ structure.
What were the best aspects of your time at KTH?
Looking back at my MSc, those two years were really a nice period of my life! I definitely worked really hard, but at the same time I had a lot of fun. I loved Stockholm as a city to live in, being a modern, efficient and green capital, surrounded by the sea (with many nice spots where to have a swim, although only for a relatively short period of the year!). Albeit I have to admit that the darkness of the Swedish winter was tough, I familiarized with many aspects of the Swedish culture, like for instance the concept of lagom, indicating “just the right amount” or more broadly speaking a balance in life. This applies well to the ritual of fika, that moment of the day where you take a break from work and relax having some coffee, a kanelbulle and a chat!
Moreover, being KTH such an international university, I made really many friends from all over the world, with whom I’m still in touch still now. On my second year I also lived in a student accommodation (namely Lappis) around which many of the good memories I carry with me are based.
What would you want to say to a student thinking of applying for this programme?
I would start by recommending to attend the events organized by THS (the student union) in August, before the start of the programme, as they are a great opportunity to get to know people – also from other programmes. Partly linked to this point, Stockholm is a city full of interesting things going on: although this MSc will be demanding, I still suggest finding the time to check out some talks, seminars, etc. on the most diverse topics. In addition, joining at least a student association or project will give you the chance to experience the university life to the full and get to know more Swedes.
Secondly and very importantly, I would suggest studying Swedish and aiming to reach a decent level. You won’t need it almost at all in your daily life while studying, as everyone in Stockholm can speak English, but afterwards it will turn out super useful if you are looking for a job in Sweden. In addition to this, it helps integrating better in the society.
Third, if you are interested in a summer internship or in a thesis in a company, I believe that there are several opportunities in our field in Stockholm (or other Swedish towns). However, start looking for them well in advance (even 5 months earlier) and be persistent. Obviously, if you can speak some Swedish you’ll have an advantage on the other applicants!