The future of transportation is electric. The future of energy is clean renewables. The future — and increasingly the present — also requires connecting these two. EDF is well on its way in this marathon into the coming decades, and I recently sat down with Raphael Declercq, Executive Vice President of Distributed Solutions at EDF Renewables North America, to talk about these matters and more. Tune in via the embedded SoundCloud player below or on Anchor, Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket, Podbean, Radio Public, SoundCloud, Spotify, or Stitcher.
If you’d like a little more info on what we talked about before listening, below is a summary of the topics. First, though, here’s a bit more about Raphael and his role at EDF to add a little context:
Raphael heads up EDF Renewables North America’s Distributed Solutions business unit. Alongside the president & CEO of the company, he crafts and implements the EDF Renewables strategy in North America. “Raphael has responsibility over the teams and legal entities conducting activities at the distribution level. Through a combination of acquisitions and internal growth, Raphael had a leading role in building the commercial solar, storage and smart electric vehicle charging business of EDF Renewables. He now oversees the operations of this fast-growing part of our business. In his strategy role, he has a focus on identifying growth opportunities for EDF Renewables businesses in North America.” Sounds like quite the platter of responsibilities!
Overall, EDF Group has approximately 150,000 employees worldwide and is a ~$20 billion EBITDA company. The energy and power giant is fully focused on decarbonization in this critical realm of the economy. Most of its new investments are in renewable energy, and all of the power supply it manages is zero-emissions (the company manages France’s extensive nuclear power fleet as well as many renewable energy projects).
A key focus area or solution for EDF Renewables at the moment is PowerFlex, which combines solar PV power, energy storage, and smart EV charging for its customers. One good thing is that the company is seeing a notable increase in customer interest in these matters as a larger and larger number of major companies as well as individuals catch word of record-low solar power prices, the value of integrated energy storage, and a new era of EV competitiveness.
PowerFlex is envisioned as the “one-stop shop” for commercial and industrial customers as it relates to electrification and decarbonization of energy. EDF is focused on both developing the software for these systems and outcompeting others in the implementation/installation of large projects. It brings with it years of experience serving remote islands, as well as exclusive rights to specific Caltech (California Institute of Technology) patents related to adaptive load management. Raphael claims that all of this allows EDF to be “extremely cost competitive” — for example, when it comes to implementation of numerous charging stations at a site.
Overall, the aim of business is often to achieve your objective at the lowest cost possible, and Raphael and I dove into how the company’s extensive integration of solar, storage, and EV charging at various levels provide the ability to scale more, and thus lower overall costs. Without a doubt, I would not like to go pitch implementation of one of these things alone after EDF just pitched its integrated solution.
We circled back to a discussion of what “adaptive load management” is, why it’s so important, and how it helps EDF to serve both EV drivers and the grid. We also covered resiliency and its increasing importance for C&I (commercial & industrial) customers. This includes the rollout of microgrids and dramatically cutting the use of diesel generators in those microgrids through smarter software.
And we touched on a key to the future for EDF as well as the future of the world: recruiting very high-quality personnel to work on these kinds of clean energy solutions rather than going into the consumer/web tech world of Apple, Google, Facebook, etc.
For much more, listen to the podcast!