“Who approach the world of photovoltaics today, clearly in a technical area like ours, I recommend a lot of field, humility and curiosity.” – Marco Ranno, Head of Business Operations


Here is a new interview of the new column “Solar Professionals” where you can discover the professions, but first and foremost, the people who are part of the EF Solare team. Through the words of the interviewees, of their stories, in identikit format, we would like to stimulate young professionals and reveal the commitment of those who are “behind the scenes” in this sector providing clean energy every day to the Country.


Name, Surname, Role

Marco Ranno, Head of Business Operations

What the profession of manager of the Business Operations is about?

The main goal of the Business Operations team is to maximize the performance (and therefore the producibility) of EF Solare Italia’s photovoltaic assets through operations & maintenance activities. The team has the responsibility to work directly on its own plants or to manage relationships and to supervise the third party companies in charge of these activities. Today, EF Solare Italia’s Business Operations team consists of Back Officers, Area Managers, Field Coordinators and Technicians, all with different skills, oriented to achieve the same objective.

The Head of Business Operations has first of all the responsibility and the honour of managing and coordinating the Team, always seeking maximum operational/management efficiency and facilitating synergies and procedures with other corporate areas. He is also responsible for guiding the O&M internalization process, which EF Solare Italia is pursuing in order to guarantee a greater control and operational efficiency of its photovoltaic systems.

The ambitious final objective is to contribute to lowering the LCOE (levelized cost of energy) of EF Solare’s assets, containing costs and maximizing the GWh produced.

What challenges did you encounter during Covid-19 emergency in managing the plants and coordinating Area Managers to continue to guarantee the production of clean energy?

During the first period of the Covid-19 emergency, we suffered some reasonable slowdowns on the part of the Contractors but then, in compliance with the various DPCM and with the help of our colleagues in charge of emergency management, we were able to resume full operations in a timely manner. Unfortunately, the long lead times for the supply of spare materials remained a more long-lasting problem. However, EF Solare has never stopped, neither from an operational point of view neither from a management point of view, in the latter case by adopting efficient smart working measures.

In the midst of the Covid-19 emergency, we were able, thanks to our determination and the support of our contractors, to restore two major breakdowns at the HV/MV substation in Lazio and Sardinia in record time, putting almost 60 MW back into operation in a short time.

What course of study did you take?

I studied and graduated in Electrical Engineering, with a focus on Energy, at the University of Catania.  I have been enrolled in the Order of Engineers of the Province of Catania for 14 years.

What are the three main skills that a good Head of Business Operations must have?

– To be able to convey the importance of the objectives to colleagues and companies that, with their work, directly influence EF Solare’s core business, that is producing electricity from photovoltaic systems;

– Despite the management of the ordinary, it is necessary to never feel satisfied and to have an innovative vision and continuous search for efficiency;

– In addition to the obvious managerial characteristics in interfacing with other internal and external areas, even not purely technical, I believe that it is an important added value to have a strong plant engineering background in the Energy sector.

What professional experience was the most impactful to you?

I was lucky enough to always work for important companies that gave me the opportunity to train in a more or less structured way. All the experiences have been very important. I believe that professional growth depends not only on the company, but also on humility and determination to learn, absorbing as much as possible especially in the first years of work. In fact, they were the first experiences that made me grow more from a technical point of view. For example, when I worked as an electrical supervisor at an 800 MW combined cycle thermoelectric power plant in Calabria, I had the opportunity to be in contact with professionals with very high know-how from which I learned a lot. Then, in 2009, I landed in the photovoltaic sector and I gained a significant experience as “Construction manager” in one of the largest multinational companies of the moment. From the point of view of managerial growth, I owe a lot to the world of Operations (Asset and O&M management) in which I have been working since the end of 2011.

How has the photovoltaic sector changed over the years?

After an initial phase of strong growth in installations (2011-2012), we have seen a slowdown and the subsequent start of a process of consolidation in the sector. Industrial operators such as EF Solare, in order to create value and optimize assets, have focused on the acquisition of plants in operation. Also at the O&M level, there has been a rationalization of O&M Contractors in the search for professional and reliable partners. In EF Solare, a third phase has been started since last year: a process of internalization of maintenance activities aimed at developing skills and know-how directly in the territories where our plants are located.

Any advice for those who want to take up with the profession?

Do not jump the gun on, you don’t have to start as a “manager”. It is essential to build the technical basis today in order to give solidity to the professional figure of the future. To those who approach the world of photovoltaics today, clearly in a technical area like ours, I recommend a lot of field, humility and curiosity.

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