Global politics is in a state of upheaval and there are widespread concerns that important issues like global warming are not on the agenda. Not so, says ENGIE’s Senior Executive Adviser and Associate Director for Strategy, Global Centralised Generation, Nicole Iseppi. The signs, she says, of a future based on a low carbon economy are becoming more positive than ever.

Renewables are here to stay for now and in the long term. That’s the message of Nicole Iseppi, Senior Executive Adviser and Associate Director of Strategy, Global Centralised Generation at ENGIE. The reality is that renewable energy is now cheaper, cleaner and a more economical viable source of energy for the future.  Moreover, renewables allow governments and communities to be energy independent.

Let’s look at the facts.

Solar power has plummeted in cost. In 2008 the average cost was around €700 per megawatt-hour (MWh). Roll forward to 2016, and Chile announced a new contract price of less than €30/MWh. Meanwhile, in France, photovoltaic electricity tender call in 2017 determined an average electricity price of about €62.50/MWh. That’s less than half the cost of new nuclear power projects.

And innovation isn’t necessarily occurring only in Western countries. China accounted for one-third of renewable energy investment in 2015 and is the world’s biggest solar energy producer – and it plan to invest another €335 billion into renewable power generation by 2020. The Indian government has projected an increase in renewables capacity from 14% in 2016 to 43% in 2027.

Finally, energy policy has become more decentralised. Washington DC, for example, announced a plan to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. By 2030, the states of California and New York intends to run on 50% renewables.

“The future of the energy world will be the 3Ds – digitalised, decentralised and decarbonised,” says Iseppi. “This revolution is already underway, driven by the demands of public opinion and also technological innovation.

“It will enable us to meet the challenges of both climate change and energy access, and is bound to change the geopolitical balance of power and accelerate the emergence of developing countries, through enabling increased energy independence.” 

So where does ENGIE fit into this picture?

ENGIE is a global energy player focused on three core areas: low-carbon power generation, mainly based on natural gas – which ENGIE says will be green by 2050 – and renewable energy, global networks and customer solutions. All of their offers are low-carbon, high-performing and sustainable, using the latest digital technologies to deliver. The company employs 154,950 people worldwide and operates in 70 countries.

But what is most striking about ENGIE is its values. For example, the #ENGIEharmonyproject is a movement aimed at collectively imagining solutions towards a harmonious energy revolution. It is, they say, “a series of global initiatives that bring harmonious progress to life. Each initiative is the result of

blending ENGIE’s expertise with the know-how of a partner. “Start-ups, artists, farmers, collaborators… together, we imagine, build, and deploy innovations that shape a more harmonious future”, insists the company.

More than a company, it’s aiming to change the world.

So where does Nicole Iseppi fit into ENGIE?

Iseppi is a Senior Executive Adviser and also Associate Director of Strategy & Economic Development – Global Centralised Generation at ENGIE. She has had the pleasure of being with ENGIE since the beginning of 2010 and held various roles to date:

  • Senior Executive Adviser to ENGIE (2018 – present);
  • Associate Director – Strategy, Economic Development and Communications for ENGIE’s Global Centralised Generation business (2016 – present);
  • Global Team Leader for ENGIE’s Structured Network for Financing Agreements (covering the regions Asia, Australia, Middle East, Africa, Latin America, North America, UK and Turkey) (2013 – 2016); and
  • Deputy General Counsel and Head of Finance Legal for ENGIE’s South Asia, Middle East and Africa region (2010 – 2016).

Since 2016, she has been part of ENGIE’s global centralised generation strategy team. “Centralised generation is an essential part of both ENGIE’s portfolio of assets and the global energy sector,” says Iseppi.

“In working through the energy revolution that is currently transforming our global energy markets, we collaborate with our colleagues within ENGIE – across all our different regions of activities – to achieve further successes in our united pursuit of ENGIE, continuing to be a leader in tomorrow’s energy world.”

Iseppi’s ethical outlook strongly aligns with ENGIE, strongly featuring hard-work, dedication and social change:

“I am originally from Melbourne, Australia, and have strong mentors in my life who have inspired me early on to always work hard and if a job was worth doing, it was worth doing properly. 

“I also have been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work around the globe on international energy and infrastructure projects for the last 19 plus years. This experience includes, prior to ENGIE, working as a senior executive adviser to the Japan Bank of International Co-operation and also lead-adviser in the creation of a new international low carbon financial institution.

“I have also been actively working on energy projects with core stakeholders – both in the private and public sector – in the GCC region since early 2004.”

“My parents instilled in me that if you are fortunate to have access to a good education and the chance to be exposed to a variety of opportunities, you also have a responsibility to do something useful with such knowledge and experiences and return the favour by giving back positively in some way to society.

“Having the opportunity to be part of the global energy sector and build a robust low-carbon economy is extremely rewarding and something I feel very fortunate to contribute to.”

What does Iseppi think are the challenges of, and hopes for, the future in the energy sector?

Iseppi says she is an optimistic person. “I do feel hopeful for the future,” she says. “If we actively aim to address the core issues and are constantly open to thinking outside of the box and being more innovative, we can find a solution to these challenges.”

She and ENGIE have identified some core challenges ahead. One she calls the ‘energy transition phase’.

At a G20 Infrastructure Meeting last year, which I was honoured to be asked to attend as an industry expert to share my thoughts, I expressed the view that we are now at the start of a new industrial revolution. It is a future of more decentralised energy; a future focused on decarbonisation and a more digitalised future society.

“The speed of change is accelerating, and one needs to more than ever constantly re-adapt and move with the times. I find these challenges and opportunities exciting – especially in my passion and pursuit for problem-solving.  We have exciting opportunities ahead, and the best way to address many of them is to collaborate and push the boundaries more and more – to achieve more efficiency and high levels of quality output.”

The second is the ‘Energy Access Paradox.’ What this means is that, as ENGIE recently put it, the technology that should make power generation available to all has not yet scaled up to levels able to completely address all global energy needs.  As of today, there are over 1.2 billion people in the world with no access to energy.”

“Market conditions are preventing it from scaling up at the rate we need – especially in developing countries. The return is often too low for the investor, who is facing a high risk of money and yet the price is often too high for the local user in these regions.

In addition to focusing on technological innovation during this energy transition phase, Iseppi also says we must now look to more market-based innovation tools and mechanisms. In other words, we must ensure every single person in the world has access to energy.

Nicole Iseppi is a passionate problem solver, a strong supporter and advocate of promoting innovation and industry collaboration, and a compelling advocate for the social, economic and cultural change needed as we globally transition to a robust low carbon economy to address the world’s energy needs.