20 years on, I am so glad to be working in energy transition

At some point in April of 2004, I was in the last quarter of my three-year degree in international business and languages at the Burgundy School of Business. Back then, I was sure of what I wanted to do with my professional life : I wanted to work in the video game industry.

But an assigment for my English classes changed all that. I discovered the existential threat of climate change and the massive opportunities of renewable energy sources. Unbeknown to me at first, I just had stumbled on my calling. Getting a job on sustainable development or what we call today the energy transition was tough. It took me years to actually find my ikigai. So, if you are struggling yourself right now, don’t give up. There is a “green” job outthere if you need one.

Back to twenty years ago, of course, the roots for this seemingly drastic change had been planted decades earlier. I grew up in the countryside and knew the beauty of Nature via numerous hikes and so on. My family had made sure I spent some time at the farm to see if I had any inclination towards gardening, growing vegetables and so on. I had watched my fair share of Commandant Cousteau‘s adventures on TV and even read his adventures adapted as comics… So, yes, this correction course was important, but I think that sooner or later I would have done it.

Since this fateful paper, I have never stopped reading – and writing – on climate change, sustainability and our global energy transition. I wrote both my B.A. dissertation and Master’s thesis on these topics. I started this blog, read dozens of books, hundreds of articles. It’s a series of fascinating subjects.

Back to 2004, the renewable energy landscape was at its infancy. The world had installed a grand total of four or five gigawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity. These days, we are installing around the world twice that capacity every single week (More than 10 GW a week to Bloomberg NEF, with a total installed capacity above 1 000 TW). Wind was historically more advanced with 39 GW installed capacity in 2003, compared to over 900 GW today. One can see the exponential curves right there.

I admit I have no clue as to what the market was for energy efficiency and conservation, but given how cheap energy was back then, it didn’t nearly matter as much as it does or should do these days…

Climate change was a distant threat but we were sure that the power that be would be heeding the call. In a way they did, but way too slowly and too little to be meaningful to get us all out of harm’s way. Action on climate change has never been more desperately needed and the signs are incredibly clear.

As I write these few lines, Northeastern France is witnessing temperatures above 20 to even 25 °C, at least 10°C above what would be expected this early in spring. (for Fahrenheit temps : 20°C is 68°F. And we are getting 20°F above “normal” temps for the season). Needless to say, I am not looking forward to summer, especially if it means getting 40 to 45°C (approx 105 to 115 °F) for weeks.

The solutions to climate change, biodiversity collapse and skyrocketing inequalities are well known but their implementation are more of a wicked problem than anything. I am proud to at least do my share by helping local communities save energy, switch to renewables, and in doing so, become more resilient to the massive changes we are witnessing.

Image credits : Jason Leung on Unsplash. I chose this picture because while I am not anymore in Seattle, my time there still remains a key period of my life.

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