ATHENS – Despite pledges of US President-elect Donald Trump to ease regulations for oil and coal and abandon climate change obligations, Europe is forging ahead with renewables.
“Trump is an epiphenomenon unfortunate for America. But what’s happening in COP21 and recently COP22 is to reinforce the objective of the main financing people to go and finance public and private institutions,” Olivier Decherf, president of Envirogroup and a delegate of Club Ademe International, representing a network of innovative eco-companies, told New Europe in Athens on November 24.
Decherf was part of a vibrant panel to discuss new technologies and energy distribution with French representatives from Engie Group, Suez Environnment, Elpedison, PowiDian, Dalkia, and Valorem at a business and entrepreneurship forum, focusing on energy and environment at the French Institute in Athens.
He noted, however, that financing small and medium-sized energy projects, like a 500KW project, remains a challenge. Different parts of Europe need those kinds of projects to end energy isolation, he said.
“In this world of energy, what we need is to decentralise as much as possible our production of energy. And some times we need large projects – a large solar farm or a wind farm – but we need also to have small or medium size projects,” Decherf said, adding that sometimes it is easier to finance a 30 million euro renewables project that an one million euro project. “When it is a technical project from a local collectivity or from enterprise, it is starting to be difficult to find funds. One aspect that we try to look at is how to develop the awareness of the financial people to finance more projects of smaller size,” Decherf said.
The French expert also noted that “Autoconsommation” – companies that produce and consume their own energy – is gaining ground in Europe. “I’m very optimistic that this is starting now in America, it’s starting in France, in Germany, etcetera, and this will spread a lot because this is most advantageous for the people to be aware that they can produce their own energy and connect to the local grid. There are a lot of difficulties for that, which is you need to have a grid which accepts the renewables, you need to have an intelligent, a smart accounting system to do that,” Decherf said, adding that in the future medium-size companies or groups will develop a lot of these solutions.
In Europe, the price of energy is still a problem, he said. “Still, the price of energy is increasing quite a lot from country to country,” he said. “So to be able to master your consummation and your production will start to become key.”
Decherf said he believes in Europe and its ability to create an energy distribution network that will expand beyond the borders of European countries like Greece, for example.
He said the role of the European Commission is to massively invest in energy interconnectors “more than to finance small or medium projects where private sector can do it. But the interconnection network, I think if Europe can do that it will be much stronger also in terms of world competiveness for Europe as well”.
follow on twitter @energyinsider