How Ignacio Galán is Driving Iberdrola's Electrification

Leading since 2006, Ignacio Galán has transformed Iberdrola into a firm built around electrification, environmental protection and social responsibility

Spanish multinational electric utility company Iberdrola, like many other companies, has taken drastic action to evolve to meet current — and future — demands and ensure its continued success.

A huge portion of its progress in recent years has occurred under the leadership and direction of its Executive Chairman Ignacio Galán. Throughout his career, he has managed some of the world’s largest companies in a variety of industries and has helped propel them to new heights.

Harvard Business Review once named him among the top five most important CEOs in the world, with Times last year billing him as one of the most relevant leaders on fighting climate change.

Ignacio Galán: growing Iberdrola to the energy giant it is today

Ignacio Galán, Executive Chairman of Iberdrola

An engineer by training, Galán’s career has seen him take up executive positions in manufacturing, aerospace, telecommunications and energy.

Most notably, Galán has been hailed as the engineer behind Iberdrola’s rejuvenation, turning it from what was widely regarded as a second-tier Spanish company to a global ‘major new utility’, the world’s third largest. It once primarily operated as a domestic company with coal, hydroelectric and oil-fired plants, but, thanks to Galán, is now a leader in clean energy and an owner of electricity grids with operations in Brazil, Mexico, the UK and the US. More than 100 million people’s energy comes from Iberdrola.

Ignacio Galán, Executive Chairman of Iberdrola

He said: “We are very proud of what we have been building at Iberdrola over the past two decades, in line with our century-long history. And we want to continue driving the transition towards an energy system based on renewable energy, grids and storage to build a more sustainable, fair, fraternal, supportive and prosperous society and a more habitable planet for new generations.”

Since arriving at Iberdrola as executive vice-chairman and chief executive in 2001, Galán’s laser-focus on and commitment to international expansion and electrification has facilitated Iberdrola’s investment of more than €140bn (US$151.7bn) in renewable energies, smart grids and energy storage.

And in the last week, Iberdrola announced it is going to invest €41bn (US$44.4bn) by 2026 to accelerate electrification across grid upgrades and renewables worldwide.

Ignacio Galán, Executive Chairman of Iberdrola

The electrification of energy is unstoppable and will expand exponentially in the years ahead, supporting decarbonisation, boosting energy security and reducing the volatility caused by fossil fuels. Customers are already driving this change. People are not returning to fossil fuels after they move to electric.  Those who flip from petrol to EVs do not move back, likewise for customers replacing gas boilers with heat pumps. 

“Our strategy will focus on delivering an enhanced grid to support security of supply — now 60% of our total investment — as well as a strong expansion of renewables capacity, driven by the substitution of fossil technologies and additional demand,” the executive chairman said. “We also recognise an increasing role of storage technologies to preserve the balance between supply and demand 24 hours a day.

Ignacio Galán, Executive Chairman of Iberdrola

“Our strategic pillars focus on networks, geographical diversification and a balanced energy and customers mix. This plan will allow us to grow our asset base, grow our profitability and strengthen our finances, as well as increasing dividends and driving jobs and skills and economic growth.”

Galán’s dedication to electrification and diversifying the business for the benefit of the planet has been widely acknowledged and celebrated, with the leader made a Doctor Honoris Causa of the universities of Salamanca — in his home town — Edinburgh and Strathclyde. In 2014, he was honoured by Queen Elizabeth II with the honorary award of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his work to promote the British energy sector and UK-Spain trade and investment relations. 

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