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#GLF19 | "We can save the planet, but so far we haven't chosen the right solutions"

Franck Bruel is the author of the book "Energie efficace, quand moins et mieux font plus" (Efficient energy, when less and better do more); he shares his vision of energy transition.

Three years ago, Engie produced all forms of energy all over the world. When Isabelle Kocher and a new management team arrived, the managers decided to switch to low-carbon and sell its coal-fired power plants, thermal power plants and stations in the North Sea. It took two years to sell off its carbon assets. This decision was taken against the expectations of analysts. The assets sold well, and this was reinvested in renewable energy. Engie is a major player in wind energy, photovoltaics and hydropower.

Engie has just announced its intention to be world leader in zero carbon. Being a leader means being irreproachable, but it also means helping global players move towards zero carbon. It is zero carbon that will save humanity by stopping greenhouse gas emissions. Our job is to help companies, economies and territories to manage this transition. By helping them, and also by financing and accompanying them. This is our new mission.

We can save the planet, but so far we haven't chosen the right solutions. We must continue to produce energy and increase our capacity, but all agencies and scientists agree that this will be insufficient without energy efficiency. Energy efficiency represents more than 50% of the progress that must be made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, since the 2000s, 100% of investments in renewable energy have saved less greenhouse gases than energy efficiency achieved in this period of time, although this was not the priority. Therefore, this is a major challenge for progress in the energy transition.  

While we can reproduce bees and thus save them from extinction, we cannot go back once the greenhouse gas emission threshold has been exceeded. Progress is infinite because it has not been implemented worldwide. The economies that are growing the most do so on the basis of solutions that are not always the cleanest but rather the cheapest and where they have technological expertise.

Technology is an inexhaustible source of energy efficiency. When the Golf came out it was 70 hp that consumed 14 litres per hundred km, today it is 100 hp, it is heavier and equipped with air conditioning, but it consumes 4 litres per hundred km. What was impossible 20 years ago has become possible. To this must be added the digital dimension. When we deploy new energies, we multiply the sources of energy. For example, in France, the majority of energy sources supplying the entire country were nuclear. Today there are photovoltaic panels in fields and also on houses, factories and car parks. There are wind turbines, at sea and elsewhere, that produce energy when there is wind or sun. So sometimes there are losses. Thus it is necessary to rebalance the system because energy is not stored. What balances the network is the multiplication of sources and digital tools. Moreover, if electricity does not arrive with good frequency and intensity, the entire network is disrupted. 

Last but not least, we have implemented a contract with the city of Paris, which does not have the means or the desire to invest heavily in the renovation of schools. In this contract, Engie takes care of all the energy consumption and investments that go with it and rewards itself with the savings made. In 140 schools, there was a full audit of the buildings, so some windows, some radiators, and some boilers were changed. IOTs have been installed to manage and model the operation of facilities and assign them to intelligent systems. Hydraulic door closers were put on doors, teachers were trained. All this allows us to generate energy savings that can finance investments and also be sustainable.

Energy efficiency means consuming better, while maintaining an equal level of comfort. This is the priority to save the planet by sustainably and visibly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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