On the evening of March 14th, the launch of the “Energies for Climate” mobilization at the SenseSpace in Paris was packed. Between two jokes about the energy transition and Flavio Coelho’s great hits, we learned a lot about the Energy transition. If you missed this MakeSense Room because you either had water polo or spent your time playing Candy Crush instead of listening to the speakers, don’t you worry: the MakeSense STORiES editors broke the back of the work to deliver the five things to remember from that evening. We suggest musical breaks with some Flavio Coelho, a talented Brazilian artist.
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We won’t get there if we stay on our own: we need to work together.
All the speakers came together on this point: everyone has a role to play, whether you’re a citizen, an institution, a company, a community or the state. Collectively we will be able to provide answers for low carbon and renewable energy.
At the citizen’s level, it may seem to be the same old thing, but the energy transition is closely linked to the way we consume energy. Every little bit counts, recalls Fabrice Boissier, ADEME‘s Deputy General Manager: renovating your house (as a reminder 45% energy consumption is related to housing), choosing a heating system that is more energy efficient, not leaving your charger plugged in all night, avoiding consuming electricity during peak hours…
Some citizens think that acting on their own consumption is not enough. This is the conclusion of Laurent Monnet Plaine Energie Citoyenne, an association born in the Plaine Commune a year ago that brings together citizens in the broad sense (communities, individuals, …) with the ambition to contribute to the development of renewable energy by installing solar panels on schools, homes or urban farms.
Reclaiming energy production is also an excellent way to raise citizens’ awareness of the energy transition by making it concrete: “What’s better than installing a solar panel on your roof to understand the problems of resources, power or distribution?” says Claude Nahon, director of sustainable development at EDF.
2. Inventing new technologies is good. Paying attention to our products’ life cycles is also good.
Inventing a sensor within your washing machine that would impact the consumer behaviour.
Fabrice Boissier of the ADEME reminded us that even if the digital and the new technologies can be the source of marvellous innovations accelerating the energy transition, technological objects remain very energy-intensive. Want proof? A 100-gram smartphone carries a 75 kilo ecological backpack. So it’s urgent we invest the field of reparability to extend the life of products and thus reduce the production of new goods that consume so-called “gray” energies.
3. There are people who dream of wearing wind turbines on their heads.
When we asked the speakers and participants to close their eyes and imagine where the energy transition would bring them in 2050, some dreamt of a world where:
– There would be no more heating problem in winter for vulnerable populations,
– Black bins would have disappeared from the landscape, just like single-use plastic bags,
– We would buy in bulk and would have deposit terminals points all over the place,
– The planned obsolescence would be a distant memory,
– The latest fashion in Paris would be to wear wind turbines-hats on our head,
– The sky would be blue, clean from pollution.
4. Good news: there are innovative projects that, at their scales, are drawing these dreams closer
4% of global energy consumption comes from data centres, and this proportion continues to grow. Computer calculations generate heat. Why not reuse this heat in homes that need it? This is the great idea of Qarnot, a start-up that designed the Q.rad, the first radiator-computer whose heat comes from embedded microprocessors, connected to the internet, which remotely realize computer calculations for third-party companies. Quentin Laurens explains that this solution considerably reduces the carbon footprint of computer calculations. Radiators are already installed in social housing that will no longer have to pay bills for their electricity consumption.
Plastic Odyssey is the name of a catamaran that goes around the world to turn plastic waste into oil. The idea came to Simon Bernard, the co-founder, while stopping in Dakar where 20 tons of waste are dumped every minute in the ocean. The members of Plastic Odyssey will develop systems to sort the plastic, recover it and make energy out of it. With their technology, one kilo of plastic can be converted into about 1 litre of diesel or gasoline
5. Energy is not just about energy
High tech, innovation, that’s all great, but that’s only part of the solution. If we look for example at Africa’s access to energy, no crypto-radiator, only simple solar kits. The problem, says Pierre Devillard CEO of NEoT Capital, is as much related to financing than it is to technology. It’s about finding an effective way to finance the access to energy, through leasing systems and new business models. It should be noted that access to energy can also be synonymous with access to education, and that the social impact of the energy transition should not be underestimated.
This article was produced as part of the Energies for Climate mobilisation. A program in partnership with EDF.