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Maite Pereiro: I knew that science was my thing

Maite Pereiro: I knew that science was my thing

February 10, 2023
She has always wanted to work in a technical field and now she enjoys doing a job that supports the energy transition. Maite Pereiro, Head of Production at Cogen España, sees more and more women working in the energy sector.

You studied engineering at university and now you work for a company operating power plants. Where does this attraction to scientific topics come from?

In my family, I had the example of my grandfather who was a civil engineer, and my father who was a topographical engineer. They both worked in the technical area.

But besides that, since school, I have always done well in subjects such as mathematics, chemistry, and spatial vision. So, although at some point I was hesitant and considered devoting my career to health, in the back of my mind I always knew that science was my thing.


Do you have the impression of working in a male-dominated sector – and if yes, does it bother you?

I think that the energy sector in Spain has traditionally been run by men. However, this has changed in recent years and there are more and more women working in this area. So far, I have never suffered discrimination in the workplace as a woman. However, I think there is still work to be done with regard to the representation of women in the energy sector to ensure a stronger balance.


You are Head of Production at Cogen España (member of MET Group). What is your favourite part of this job?

I like to think that my department is at the heart of the company, as it is in direct contact with practically all other areas of Cogen. In my job, I have daily contact with different departments such as the Financial Department, the Trading Department in the Electricity Market, the Maintenance Department and, of course, our Cogeneration Power Plant Managers. This makes my job very enriching, and I continuously learn from other disciplines.


Do you think that you and Cogen contribute to the energy transition that we talk about so much nowadays?

Yes, of course. Cogeneration is a technology in which by burning a fuel, electricity and thermal energy are produced at the same time. The electricity is exported to the grid, and the thermal energy is used in adjacent factories. Thus, cogeneration saves large amounts of fuel compared to producing electricity and heat separately, and conventionally. Cogeneration can save up to 30% of fuel while producing the same amount of useable energy. By saving fuel, cogeneration also saves on CO2 emissions and contributes to decarbonization. Nowadays, the main fuel used is natural gas, but cogeneration also uses biomass, biogas, and other renewable fuels – in the future probably green hydrogen as well.

Another advantage of cogeneration is that it produces energy close to the large industries consuming it, so it avoids substantial losses that occur when transporting electricity through the grids. I believe that cogeneration should play an important role in the energy transition and in the European energy mix, as it is a flexible and efficient technology that can operate without depending on the wind or the sun – providing security and reliability to the electricity supply.


Tell us about yourself outside work. How do you recharge the batteries?

I have a great love for nature and enjoy outdoor activities. I usually spend my weekends taking long walks in the countryside with my husband and my dog, it helps me to switch off and relax. I also enjoy having dinner with friends and going out dancing.