The Energy Efficiency Challenge
Jean-Pascal Tricoire, President & CEO, Schneider Electric
Jean-Pascal Tricoire, CEO
Has Schneider's vision changed as a result of the new challenges facing the planet?
Jean-Pascal Tricoire: Our business is changing tremendously, and there are two things we should take into account. The first one is very fast development of new economies. You've got two very large countries driving the charge here, India and China, but a number of other countries – take Brazil, Indonesia – with a large number of people with legitimate right to get access to a middle-class status. Getting access to that, their consumption of energy has increased drastically, which means that the energy consumption of the world will increase dramatically in the next years to come.
Total energy consumption will double from now till 2050, and electrical consumption will double from now till 2030, which means more investment in electricity in the next 20 years than there has been since the inception of electricity.
The second thing which has changed a lot is the urgency about climate change and carbon dioxide reduction, and we know that if we want to preserve the climate, we've got to divide by two CO2 emissions in the next 40 years. So, multiply by two, in terms of consumption, and divide by two, in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. That means we've got to improve the energy intensity of everything we do by a factor of four: For everything we do, we have to consume one-fourth of what we used to consume. That is tremendous. Now, it's possible because there are new technologies popping up.
Too much energy is being wasted every day around the world?
Tricoire: Very often when people speak about energy waste, they speak about cars. Or they speak about energy intensive industry. Those two "packs" are making about 40 % of the world's energy consumption. The rest is our homes, the buildings, our offices, the malls where we live. And these are places where, with technology, we can everywhere reach 30 % to more than 50 % energy savings, more or less 30 % in existing buildings till 50 to 70 % in new buildings.
I understand that essentially Schneider wants to help its customers and their customers get more electricity from less? How? Specifically?
Tricoire: We help our customers make the most of their energy, and their energy is a very delicate equation to resolve. As always, we deliver super-safe energy: no fire, no electrocution. Now, in many countries, the grid doesn't supply enough energy, so we make this energy reliable: no interruption, no problems of quality. We also make this energy more efficient: more than 30 % of energy savings for a given application. We make this application productive, connected, automated, with modern supervision systems. And, finally, we make their energy green. If you want a solar panel to be attached to your roof, if you want a windmill [Note: wind turbine] to be supplying a part of the energy, we know how to do that. So, we came from a business that was 10 years ago: I make your energy safe. Now, I help you make the most of your energy: safe, reliable, efficient, productive and green.
We have heard a lot about Schneider "practicing what you preach", and the new headquarters building seems to serve as an excellent showcase
Tricoire: We have in this building divided the energy consumption by four, in respect to where we were before, and we do that using technology... We measure everything which is consumed here. We control every point. We use fat-free components, low-energy consumption components, and we've got teams revisiting in permanence the efficiency to improve our performance. Today, we are around 80 KWh per square meter and per year, and the target is to go to 50 kWh. But 80 kWh is still one-fourth of what we were doing before.
What can Schneider do to help governments? Can you give us an example?
Tricoire: We are working on a number of things with governments. We are working in China very closely to the NDRC, the planning organization. We are training their people so that they can make energy savings in coal mines, for instance. In the US, we are president of The Green Grid, which is in charge of energy-efficient, therefore low-carbon, IT. And take France. There has been a big meeting called the Grenelle de l'environnement, which is coming now into the implementation of regulations, laws and everything. And we've helped the government to understand where the constraints or the incentives had to be put.
I believe that governments have a role in regulations, in standards, so that innovation in the field of efficiency, in the field of energy management, will develop.
Schneider takes an active role in the IEC. Why?
Tricoire: Schneider also considers that the IEC has a very important role to play in this evolution of business. Everything we do in electricity, in energy, carries a certain amount of risk... and Schneider has always considered that being part of a very professional industry, with heavy responsibilities for people and assets, we had to establish together the standards of safety, of reliability, of efficiency which are needed. This is why we have always been active in every part of the IEC.
The second thing is, we believe in a global world. We believe in an industry which is global, an industry of the planet, and the IEC is the best place to be driving the standards for the future.
Constraint is the mother of many innovations, and it is back to the IEC to set the standards high enough so that our industry is innovating even more.
What should the IEC be focusing its efforts on?
Tricoire: The IEC should be drafting the future of our business and not regulating the past of our business, and facing those new challenges, of reliability, of efficiency,... the challenges of connecting to new sources of energy, like renewable sources of energy, and making sure that those regulations are well enforced by governments.
Schneider deals with very long, industrial project time frames looking 20 to 30 years into the future. How do you see the world in 2025?
Tricoire: I think we are at a turning point today. Either we keep on managing the energy equation as it has been managed in the past 30 years, and we are facing a big wall, a big deadlock, and there will be wars for energy, there will be a price of energy that will go up very fast, there will be carbon emissions that will hamper the climate of the world. Or, we really prepare the planet for tomorrow, we develop renewable sources of energy. But more so, we learn to do more while using less of our planet. That means energy efficiency and energy savings.
I believe there are very positive signs today. You see a country like the US, which is a leader for the West that was not doing anything in this field and which has now turned into a total different spirit in this sector, and that will drive many other countries to really address the issue of climate change. You see China really decided to address the issue. You see Europe with objectives in 2020. So, I believe the world is really changing. We are at a turning point. And now it is all with us to make it happen.