Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Schneider Electric’s Chairman and CEO, spoke at CERAWeek by S&P Global, the world's premier energy conference, reinforcing the importance of digitization and infrastructure investment to address our current and future energy challenges.
Joining a panel of experts for a discussion entitled, “The Electrification of Everything?”, Tricoire shared his thoughts around the challenges and opportunities as we move toward the new electric future.
Jean-Pascal Tricoire said that we underestimate the change coming in the electrical system and the way it will be managed in the future. The challenge is even bigger than we described. Today, electricity is only 20% of energy consumption, but that will be 40-60% in the next 20 years. A large section of the electrical infrastructure will be built over that next 20 years allowing us to rethink how we do it. The fundamentals for that will be built around security and resiliency.
With technology available, it’s possible for every company to be more resilient. I believe the first step is to empower all to be more responsible in what we do with their energy. In the US, we could leverage distributed energy resources – only about 15% of homes have smart thermostats and only 40% of buildings are smart buildings.
In Europe, less than 10% of buildings are smart buildings so they can’t adjust their energy consumption. So here, you have a huge reserve of possibilities. In the U.S. today, we also have the largest amount of microgrid projects – large customers taking charge of their energy resiliency and security based on renewables backing up the grid. If you combine greater efficiency with local generation, this will reduce the pressure on utilities, then it’s a shared responsibility between users and utilities.”
So, what’s coming is energy transition? According to him, cars, heating systems, everything will be far more electric. This revolution is now happening in the US and Europe, and everywhere around the world Technology allows you to ensure this digitization and security at the local level – combined with a grid that will be infinitely more intelligent – that will be more connected to the consumer.
The Internet has revolutionized the way we live together. We need to be prepared for the same kind of revolution over the next 20 years in the way we manage energy. Everything connected, everything electric and you being empowered.
Next, what do we need to do to address our current challenges? He said that it’s time that we rebalance the debate on the demand side. "I’m always surprised when people discuss the energy transition." The focus is on supply when the transition is always driven by demand – that’s number one. Number two is money. Take Europe – last year we spent 6 million Euros in soothing the pain of consumers around the cost of energy. What, if we had invested that Euro 600 million into accelerating the transition to another way of dealing with the issue? This is what the IRA is doing here.
The third thing is simplifying regulations. "Regulation on energy is now done on a system of yesterday, and not policies focused on tomorrow. How can we simplify that so all of us can participate?”
Another bottle neck is that all the technologies we are discussing are new technologies. Nobody has been trained at scale to deploy them. How many people do you need in the US to go from 40% to 100% of smart buildings, or from 15% of smart homes to 100%? Great jobs on the boarder of energy and digital. Jobs of the future that will be needed all over the world. Currently, there are almost no schools teaching these skills, which is an issue.
He concluded, "As Schneider, we are training 1 million people as we speak through partnerships, but this is one of the biggest challenges as we begin the energy transition.”