INTERVIEW. According to the boss of Engie, “nine out of ten Europeans are for the energy transition”

INTERVIEW. According to the boss of Engie, “nine out of ten Europeans are for the energy transition”
INTERVIEW. According to the boss of Engie, “nine out of ten Europeans are for the energy transition”

Three years ago, Catherine MacGregor was appointed general director of Engie (the former GDF-Suez, which today has 96,000 employees, 93.9 billion in turnover). This in a complicated internal context.

Her predecessor, Isabelle Kocher, was the first woman to head a Cac 40 company, but was dismissed following a strategic disagreement with the chairman of the board of directors, Jean-Pierre Clamadieu.

At the helm of a gas distribution giant, she then had to confront the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. With the need to drastically reduce imports of Russian gas, which have become essential to the European Union. At the same time, it is leading what is the priority of the former Gaz de France: getting out of fossil fuels and massively developing renewable energies. In this area, Engie started from almost nothing, with only a set of dams on the Rhône and in the Pyrenees.

Catherine MacGregor is following this roadmap with conviction, even though she had previously spent her entire career in the hydrocarbon field, at Schlumberger then Technip.

According to the survey commissioned by Engie with the Jean-Jaurès foundation, European citizens are in favor of the development of renewable energies. However, a dominant part of the political class wants to slow down because they would fuel a populist vote. What do you think ?

We had heard this little music and we wanted to get to the bottom of it. Good news: nine out of ten Europeans support the energy transition and want more of it. It is even an issue considered important enough for it to be taken into account when voting in the next European elections, on June 9. There are, not surprisingly, questions about feasibility, cost. But it is a message to politicians to maintain strong ambition.

The first reason for concern is the risk of rising energy prices…

There is a path to building a low-carbon, low-cost energy system. At the same time, we must ensure that the poorest households will be helped so that the possible financial impact is distributed equitably.

So the rise of green energies will not increase bills?

Today, there are more and more times during the day when the price of electricity on the wholesale market is very low. And it’s thanks to renewable energies. Of course, we must invest in their development as well as in the systems necessary to compensate for intermittency. But once installed, green energies have a very low operating cost, emit practically no CO2 and prevent us from depending on imports, unlike fossil fuels.

“Our gas is becoming more and more carbon-free”

So are we going to get there, to lead this energy transition?

We’re already getting there! In 2023, renewable energies will represent 44% of electricity production in Europe. In the United Kingdom it was more than 40%, in Germany, more than 50%, in Portugal, more than 60%. The French and Europeans are not necessarily aware of it but renewables are already playing a…

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