As we know, we must reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by half by 2030 if we want to achieve the objectives of keeping global warming to 1.5 ℃ before aspiring to carbon neutrality in 2050 thanks to to the widespread use of green hydrogen in industrial processes. An achievable roadmap, according to Gwenaelle Avice-Huet, energy transition specialist and global head of sustainable development for the multinational Schneider Electric.
Passing through Montreal last week to participate in the Sustainable Finance Summit, Ms. Avice-Huet was kind enough to talk to us about her vision of the energy transition and how it must be articulated to allow real development. sustainable.
A specialist in molecular chemistry and an engineer, Gwenaelle Avice-Huet worked as a special energy advisor to the office of the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Energy of the French government, before joining the Engie group (formerly GDF Suez), where she became a member of the executive committee and CEO for North America.
Engie is a French multinational in the non-oil energy sector with more than 160,000 employees worldwide and revenues of US$60 billion.
“I was CEO of North America, but also global head of the renewable energy business. I was based in Texas, where oil and gas companies are looking to diversify their businesses.
In 2021, the energy specialist joins Schneider Electric, another multinational energy company, as director of strategy and sustainable development.
Schneider Electric, which has 130,000 employees in Europe, America and Asia, is more involved in the development of new technologies and new industrial processes that will accelerate the energy transition.
“The job of energy companies is to develop projects, build, operate and maintain infrastructure. We need all these activities, but we also need technologies to move forward in the energy transition and abandon carbon energies, “says the manager.
Targets to halve GHG emissions by 2030 can be met, she says, if we effectively pursue the transition to renewable energy and continue to develop new technologies before we can use them on a large scale. green hydrogen in industrial processes.
“We must continue to green electricity, we must develop small-scale networks and industrial processes with renewables while pursuing energy efficiency. To be able to get out of natural gas and diesel, we will have to scale up the use of green hydrogen, ”continues Gwenaelle Avice-Huet.
There are currently large economic gaps before we can achieve widespread use of green hydrogen in industrial processes, which will eventually achieve carbon neutrality in 2050.
“The production of gray hydrogen today costs almost US$1 per kilo. For green hydrogen, it takes US$6 to US$10. We are currently working on the design of this new fuel, the management of electrolysis and predictive maintenance. We hope to reach a competitive cost around 2030. After that, we will have to scale up hydrogen,” explains Gwenaelle Avice-Huet.
The energy transition will also involve greater decentralization of electricity networks by allowing users to produce and sell their excess energy themselves to integrate it into the networks.
“We are working on the development of technological and digital tools that will make it possible. We have developed wind turbine supervision systems that allow them to be reoriented according to changes in wind direction so that they are always fully optimal, ”explains the general manager.
Even if the name and brand are not known to the general public, Schneider Electric’s footprint is not negligible in North America, and even in Quebec.
“We have developed a completely autonomous electrical network for JFK airport in New York that manages both solar panels and batteries. We only do technology, whether electric or digital,” says Gwenaelle Avice-Huet.
It is now 15 years since Schneider Electric took the turn of sustainable development and developed its solutions accordingly.
“We invest 5% of our turnover in research and development every year. Sustainable development is not just the fight against carbon, we are also working on the circularity sector.
“Our development must take into account the management of water, biodiversity, rare earths that we are starting to exploit on a large scale and which are rare, precisely. We must be able to ensure their circularity and be able to recover them once we have used them”, wishes Gwenaelle Avice-Huet.