The curse of energy efficiency • From the Editor
September 9, 2016 - Jean-Pascal Tricoire—the global chair and CEO of Schneider Electric—made a rare trip to Toronto several weeks ago; while here, he and Schneider Electric Canada president Juan Macias spoke with several industry editors at an intimate media roundtable to discuss the company’s perspective on global innovation and sustainability, and the trends impacting global energy demands.
Macias and Tricoire also answered just about any question we threw at them. Considering the company is a global player in energy management—and we see great market opportunities for energy retrofit and designing for efficiency—I opened with, “How do we make energy efficiency sexier? How do we make people want it?”.
Tricoire grinned. “The curse of energy efficiency is that it’s profitable and cheap,” he answered. “It’s not like opening a new solar farm,” he admitted. Occasions like those usually get a lot of attention and ceremony, which is why the road toward making energy efficiency both visible and desirable can be “a long, long [and] sometimes depressing journey.”
But Tricoire describes himself and the company as “energy optimists,” even when “digitization is a guzzler of energy” and 2 billion of the world’s citizens “don’t have acceptable access to energy, if any at all”.
To that point, Tricoire noted about 50% of the company’s business is in emerging economies, where there are no legacy systems. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, according to Tricoire, because “you can rethink everything you do”.
But with all of its software, energy intensity, Internet of Things, and so on, Tricoire explained digitization is actually what helps “drive major efficiencies”. Furthermore, “renewables and energy storage have come a long way, and costs are coming down”.
And Tricoire said he “noticed progress” at the COP21 climate conference in Paris “because it wasn’t politicians but businesses and cities [who] took over the conversation—for their own benefit”. After all, “the fastest, greenest source of energy is efficiency”.
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