Blue Pearl customers and their main energy challenges30 Jan 2023
The world of energy faces many challenges, and our customers are on the front line. What are the main trends and solutions that we observe on the French energy services market ?
An Interview from Eric de Seguins Pazzis and Sébastien Ugona, co-founders of Blue Pearl Energy
The surge of energy prices, a vital constraint for companies
The sharp rise in energy prices, which began in 2021, has fundamentally changed the way companies approach their energy purchases. What was until then a rather routine action has become a complex and uncertain process.
Initially hoping for the price increase to be temporary, many companies adopted short-term buying positions in 2021, meaning that they only procured energy for the year 2022. Unfortunately, at the end of 2022, prices had jumped further, forcing them to renew electricity and gas contracts for 2023 with prices multiplied by a factor of 3 to 10.
These excessive prices have put many companies at risk. To cope, some have stopped production, or shifted their production to off-peak hours. Others have even considered relocating their production lines to countries where energy is cheaper.
And all of them looked for quick solutions to reduce their energy bills.
If the prices of electricity and gas on the market have now returned to their pre-war level (February 2022); they still remain very high compared to the historical average, and particularly volatile.
In this context, it has become difficult for companies or local authorities to know when to commit to an electricity or gas price. Especially since energy suppliers, who also face with market volatility, no longer take any price risks and pass them on directly to their customers, thereby tightening purchasing conditions. This is why getting effective support in the negotiation and execution of energy contracts is becoming a major challenge. Blue Pearl Energy advises an ever-increasing number of customers in their efforts to optimize energy purchases.
The temptation of energy autonomy
The economic emergency has taken over from the climate emergency to become a powerful driver for reducing corporate energy bills. Added to the pressure on prices are the risks of cuts or rationing. As a result, customers are looking with interest into self-consumption or even energy self-sufficiency. They want to produce some of their renewable energy themselves on site or buy electricity directly from a renewable energy producer through a “PPA” contract, which allows them to benefit from stable long-term prices. But the demand for PPAs has increased so rapidly that there are no longer any available on the market.
The demand for solar PV installations is also growing fast, as well as that of biomass boilers, in replacement of oil-fired boilers. More and more municipalities are building small heating networks with biomass boilers, for public building heating purposes. Interest in biogas is also growing. This can be used to produce electricity and heat (cogeneration) or be injected into the network after purification (biomethane). A new trend is emerging: compressing biogas to transport it to industrial or tertiary customers.
Once these new solutions are in place, they must still deliver the expected energy improvements. This is why at Blue Pearl, we offer our customers a guarantee on the energy performance of the solutions implemented. Indeed, high-performance equipment that is poorly operated over time is of no great value. Confident in the quality of its installations and O§M Services, Blue Pearl is able to guarantee its customers energy saving results over several years.
Finally, we are seeing a greater need for third-party financing. Customers want to implement solutions, for example by installing heat pumps power by Solar PV panels. But they do not have the capacity to invest in all areas at the same time. Blue Pearl Energy is able to finance the energy equipment for them.
Reducing energy consumption
One of the first questions our customers ask, is how to reduce their energy consumption. For this, the energy audit is a great starting point. It makes it possible to know the reference situation and to define possible savings through specific pieces of work or process improvements. This is why the demand for this type of audit is growing so rapidly at Blue Pearl.
Finally, let us not forget that high energy prices are not the only culprit in this quest for energy sobriety. The regulatory context also pushes companies to pay a great deal of attention to their energy consumption. Our customers must comply with the new Environmental Building Regulations Known as “RE2020” in France, whereby the construction of new buildings faces obligations in terms of energy performance and reduction of carbon impact.
Many companies and local authorities are also concerned by the tertiary decree in France (or similar regulations in other European countries), which aims to reduce energy consumption in buildings for tertiary use of more than 1000 m2 (by 40% in 2030, 50% in 2040 and 60% in 2050).
Eric de Seguins Pazzis and Sébastien Ugona
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