What’s it all about?
What a year it has been for Cleantech in Europe, whilst investment wasn’t quite at the record level of 2021, it came in second, we saw tremendous policy and government acceptance of Cleantech as a strategically important sector for Europe and the EU. Jules Besnainou and his team at Cleantech for Europe have made a huge impact on both fronts. Here we discuss some of those highlights, and look at what we can expect, or hope for, in 2023. It’s Europe’s ‘man on the moon’ moment to be a global leader in the sector. Enjoy the episode.
About Jules Besnainou:
Jules Besnainou is the Executive Director of Cleantech for Europe, the initiative bridging the gap between cleantech leaders and policymakers. He was previously a director at Cleantech Group, where he advised the world’s foremost cleantech investors, corporates and governments, helping them assess and invest in new innovations. After starting his career in San Francisco and London, he moved back to France to head the group’s EU presence and clients. Jules graduated summa cum laude from Sciences Po Paris
About Cleantech for Europe:
Cleantech for Europe represents the trailblazers developing, deploying and investing in clean technologies across the EU. Our mission is to bridge the gap between cleantech and policy leaders, to chart a common path to decarbonisation, energy resilience and industrial leadership. Cleantech for Europe supports coalitions of cleantech investors, scale-ups and Members of the European Parliament. The initiative is supported by Breakthrough Energy, an organisation founded by Bill Gates.
- Cleantech for Europe Twitter: https://twitter.com/cleantechforeu
- Cleantech for Europe Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/74494891
- Cleantech for Europe Website: https://www.cleantechforeurope.com/
- Jules Besnainau LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jules-besnainou-26a51b41/
About Hyperion Executive Search:
Hyperion are a specialist executive search firm working with some of the most innovative cleantech companies in the world, helping to find extraordinary talent to enable their growth and success. Partnering with leading cleantech VCs, as well as directly with founders and entrepreneurs in the sector. With our clients we are transforming business and growing a strong and prosperous cleantech economy.
If you want to grow your team, or move forward your career, visit www.hyperionsearch.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cleantech for Europe Q3 22 Review – Cleantech Q3 Briefing 2022 (cleantechforeurope.com)
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David Hunt 0:00
Hello, I’m David Hunt CEO and founder of Hyperion executive search and your host for the leads and quintet podcast, the last podcast of the year. So thanks very much for all of your feedback and all of your listens and downloads over the course of this year, I hope it’s been useful and productive. Thanks. Also, for all of you who’ve given feedback on the new video format today, due to British bad weather, and technical issues, we’re back in a slightly older fashion format of video, which you’ll see but hopefully no less impact on great content and a great conversation. Next year, of course, we back in the studio. But super excited about today, actually, which is a great one for year end, looking at the clean tech investment and policy situation over the course of 2022. And importantly, looking at what this scenario, what the landscape looks like for 2023. With a guest we’ve had on previously, actually, over just over a year ago, which is Jules bedni, out of Executive Director at Clean Tech for Europe, who’s very much inside what’s going on here, very much hooked into the VC community and the policy landscape. So there’s lots of learnings from this and lots of really good conversations that will, we’ll dig into, which hopefully will be useful and a very productive end of year for you, of course, will be sort of not recording over the Christmas period. But you can dig into I think about 105 episodes now if you are so inclined to get away from the turkey in the family to go and listen to an episode or two. Otherwise, of course, we’ll see you in the new year. But for now, going to introduce you to Jules and have a great conversation around cleantech in Europe. And yours, it’s great to have you with us again.
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 1:40
Thanks for having me, David, nice to be back.
David Hunt 1:42
Super exciting, and a good time to have you back. Because there’s a lot that’s happened this year in obviously, both the policy and the investment landscape across Europe and lots to look forward to next year. Lots of references for our US guests in terms of some of the good things that going on in the US and how we’re, I guess, looking to couch and work alongside that with the within the European clean tech community. So perhaps for those who aren’t familiar, you can give us a quick update on yourself and on just exactly who are clean tech for Europe who is involved in what’s your mission?
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 2:10
Sure. So clean tech for Europe. Our mission is to bridge the gap between clean tech, and policymakers. So we operate in Brussels and in a number of member states across Europe, to make sure that the clean tech community gets access to and has regular contact with with policymakers. We support a number of different coalition’s one of venture capital firms investors in clean tech, more than 20 of those are part of clean tech for Europe. More recently, we launched a coalition of scaleups, with eight of the fastest growing clean tech companies in Europe, and with the support of Bill Gates and of energy Commissioner Kadri Simpson. And a few months ago, as well, we we supported the launch of the first clean tech group for policymakers supporting a number of members of the European Parliament put together their own friendship group around the topic of clean tech. And just for bearings, clean tech for Europe was initiated by clean tech group who I’m sure a lot of your listeners are aware of, and is supported by regular energy, the climate organisation founded by Bill Gates.
David Hunt 3:24
Yeah. Good. Thank you for sharing that. And again, most people will be familiar with and maybe even attended some of the clean tech group forums around the world, there certainly was great to get together with. So let’s touch a little bit since our last conversation was which was last October, by the way it feels like a million years ago, but what have been some of the key, I guess achievements or successes during 2022 For for clean tech for Europe and within the European clean tech community.
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 3:48
Right. So when we last spoke, we were kind of a new kid on the block. Trying to set up this, this initiative. I think at the time, there was very little contact honestly, between the clean tech committee and the policy community. You know, I think our biggest win, I would say over the last year has been that this has changed in a significant way that the clean tech committee in Europe is now much more plugged in to what’s happening in Brussels and in in in member states. And that we have real kind of routes for providing feedback on what the clean tech ecosystem is ecosystem needs to scale up, right. So if I take the example of our group of investors or investor coalition, they’ve had a chance throughout the year to provide significant input into a number of policy topics for the EU built around sustainable finance with around carbon pricing around funding instruments for clean tech. And that input has been taken on board by a number of policymakers so that I’d say that’s the kind of biggest achievement for our for the past year. And maybe as a consequence of that what you’re seeing in the last few weeks is actually you know, because of the the energy security context or the energy crisis coming Next because of competition from the, from the US and and further out, the EU is really starting to adopt this this idea that clean tech is a strategic priority. And I think that’s again, an achievement that we can build on to make sure that the strategies that come out of that are really beneficial for the clean tech ecosystem.
David Hunt 5:20
Yeah, I guess it’s one of those things that there’s always a kind of perfect storm of situations which clearly aren’t great. The situation in Ukraine is clearly terrible and inflation all the things that are going on, but just on if there is an upside, it’s that there are some silver linings, there is now an attention on the the energy situation in Europe in particular, obviously, the energy security and with that leans towards renewables and the technologies that support decentralised energy. So there’s a lot of, I guess, a perfect storm to some extent. But going back to your point jewels on on access to policymakers, I’ve always said, I’ve been in the sector since 2007. I’ve always said that a lot of our success was despite government rather than because of. But as we start to scale, clearly, we really do need the policy instruments to be in favour for for rapid transition, which clearly we need to get to 2030 2050. It must be a real blessing for those of you who’s founded the organisation to have the year a positive air from policymakers.
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 6:16
Well, the first let me come back on your idea of a perfect storm for clean tech. You know, I think it has to do with the reality that clean technologies can enable really a new economy that has plenty of different benefits, right? We’re not just talking about decarbonisation, we’re also talking about energy security, we’re also talking about jobs, right industrial leadership and the kind of the economical benefits that that creates. So it’s almost, you know, we’re now benefiting from the fact that clean tech is not just a decarbonisation play, but also, you know, societal change in a way, and, you know, the route for a new economy. And so whenever something happens, like the energy crisis, which is absolutely terrible right now. Well, people tend to turn to that to say, Oh, wow, that, you know, this thing we’ve been investing in also helps us with energy security, that’s kind of what’s helping us at the moment. You know, that being said, you know, to your second question on, on success, despite government, this is a real risk, right? If you look at what happened with solar, in, in the, in the early 2000s, they could not really keep up, but at the same time, you know, policy that was kind of overly generous, then kind of self corrected, then, you know, that kind of a flip flopping heard the solar industry tremendously. And, you know, the result is that now, there is no solar manufacturing capacity in Europe, or there is very little. So, I think, you know, cleantech pioneers are definitely been scarred by these types of experiences and have been in the same mindset of, okay, we’ll just put policy aside and, and succeed despite it, the reality is that now we can’t really do without it. I mean, stepchange, in total kind of difference of skill, right? That if you don’t compete with, you’re going to be left in the dust. And so there’s also the the transitioning of entire industries that in Europe would be very, very hard to do without good policy, right. Otherwise, you’re going to have massive layoffs, you’re going to have strength and ambition and investing super early into the innovation, not necessarily just the research, but also the the scale of but do it in time for the benefits to be reaped by, you know, whatever, 2030, for instance.
David Hunt 8:35
Yeah, yeah. Do you think that the European governments and the community as a whole from Brussels are recognising your point actually, that the solar boom was phenomenal had its issues? Like I said, the corrections we all wrote the solar coaster. But what ended up happening is clearly you have four or five key players that are all pretty much Chinese or certainly not outside of Europe in terms of manufacturing, do you think they’re recognising actually, with the particularly the mobility of transition and batteries and obviously, the the massive need for scaling of giga factories has really focused them on it’s not just that you say, around clean energy, it’s actually around jobs, around preservation of tax economies, all these kinds of things, which are actually almost the clean energy aspect or the decarbonisation is a side effect to some extent, from, from, from what can be achieved from from a government and from our, from our, to an economic point of view.
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 9:27
Yeah, and the batteries example is a really, really good one, right? It’s a case where the EU actually did the right thing, right, it identified a risk of losing a big part of the automotive supply chain, but it also identified an opportunity that okay, if we start building these in Europe, then we’re going to reap all those kind of side benefits, right. So we’ve shown that the model works that we can do it I think, you know, players like northvolt like Decker in France and others are, you know, proof in the pudding that when you associate a are really great teams with capital with political support, then you build champions of tomorrow, right? The difficulty is now we need to replicate that in, you know, green steel in green cement, we need to replicate that in electric trucks, we need to replicate that in battery recycling. You know, there are 10s and 10s of topics, you know, long duration energy storage, there’s so much, so many topics where we need to have a similar kind of growth and champion strategy. And that’s where it gets a bit harder is is, you know, batteries were kind of Greenfield, right? Here, you’re going to talk about replacing existing assets, replacing existing employment pools, and all of a sudden, that gets much more difficult politically to make happen, right? So, but we need to find the solution for these new entrants to to succeed, otherwise, they’re going to be disrupted from the outside, and, you know, green steel is going to come from the US or from somewhere else,
David Hunt 11:05
ya know, it’s interesting, I think, going back to one of those points I mentioned before, and again, about it’s easy, in this disruptive instance, to say things like, against successes and despite not because of governments, but I do generally and have always felt sorry for policymakers, because the industry and the technologist moves so fast, right? So it’s, it’s tough on us, for those of us who live it every day to really see what’s going on with, with hydrogen with long duration storage, as you mentioned, with batteries with with all that’s going on. So I’ve always felt sympathy for policymakers, because by definition, governments move quite slowly. And that, you know, their roles are complex, and not just about clean energy, of course, so it’s tough for them to know what’s going on in the world and to to react accordingly. So going back to your point of the within Brussels, the policymakers themselves created this friendship group, it just shows I guess, that there’s a list an appetite to get more in tune with what’s going on in the marketplace, which again, plays very well to your strengths and the community strengths as a whole. Yeah, that’s an
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 12:01
extremely positive signal from the past year, to be honest. And not just with the the members of European Parliament, I think we’ve experienced the same level of openness at the European Commission and within ministries in different in different countries, there is a real desire from the policy community to better understand what Fintech is about, and to better understand the barriers to scale so that they can remove them. That’s, you know, again, like it’s been the vast majority of interactions on our site with policymakers have been extremely positive and extremely open. Then, as you say, the challenge is more about, okay. How do you? You know, I guess, how do you come in with the right information, and the right degree of granularity for the right topics, because, as you say, even you and I, who are going very deep into this industry sometimes struggle to keep track of everything, right. It’s such a vast theme that it’s really hard to keep track of everything. So the the way we’ve approached this is, as much as possible, we try to give them very concrete cases. So whenever we have a call with a policymaker, we always try to bring a clean tech investor or a clean tech scale up so that they can hear from their on the ground experience, we organised a lot of site visits, as an example. And typically when when you experienced that, when you meet whatever, you know, the CEO of a, of a scale up or when you visit a an electrolyzer factory, it stays with you, right, and the challenges that are met on the ground stay with you. Right. So that’s a much more powerful experience than just sending one pager on a topic. Of course, we do send a lot of one pagers on topics, but but the more you can you bring them closer to the experience, the better the collaboration is. And I will say it’s the same for the other side, when, you know, clean tech companies and clean tech investors come to the Parliament or come to the commission or two ministries, they also get an understanding of the complexity. That’s, you know, that’s on that side, because also from the outside, we have a tendency to say, Oh, why isn’t X and Y happening, right? And so by engaging, you know, on both sides, you get you get to a level of complexity and understanding that is where you actually make real progress.
David Hunt 14:16
Yeah, of understanding rather than quantity. And again, it is that not animosity as such, but like so lack of understanding of why why did policymakers take too long and on the flip side of punishment is why you tell us one thing and teach six months later, it’s different. And that’s just how the technology is. So it’s good that there’s that level of understanding. We’re gonna look a little bit at the broader global picture. But when we spoke last week, it was just at the time you talk about 55, can you share a little bit of some of those policy instruments, which are evolutions that took place this year?
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 14:42
Right. So if you look at the big policy projects taking place in Europe right now, one of them is definitely 55. So this is a package of different regulations that was announced now a couple of years ago, two, three years ago, that was basically its aim. was to operationalize the Green Deal or this idea that we’re going to reduce our emissions significantly by 2030. And to net zero by, by 2050. So 55 means getting fit for a reduction of 55%, of decarbonize of carbon emissions by 2030. And within that you had, I think, 12 different pieces of legislation that were reviewed to get to that goal, right. So within that you have carbon pricing, you have energy efficiency, directive, renewable energy directive, and a number of other policy files. I think the status on that is, it’s mostly, the negotiation on that is mostly done. It’s taken three, three years, I think total to get it done. But that’s the European rhythm. But now that it is I think we’re starting to see some real areas of progress. So for instance, there was there was an agreement to phase out internal combustion engines by 2035, which is a huge, important target. There’s increasing certainty on a strong carbon price by, say, 2028, which is also very good. And you’re starting to see more and more signals, like having energy efficiency targets be binding at the national level. So little by little on every sector, you’re starting to see some some real progress, and that’s 55. But since then, there’s been the war in Ukraine and the inflation Reduction Act. And that’s prompted a couple of other things to on the kind of negotiation docket. One is we power EU, which is the EU’s, big plan for reducing energy dependency on fossil fuels, imported fossil fuels. That’s a very important package that are that’s also being negotiated right now that there was a preliminary agreement yesterday. And that’s also very important for for clean tech. And then the third is something that’s getting shaped right now, which is how is the EU going to respond to the inflation Reduction Act? Maybe with a sovereignty fund maybe with other tools that you would reform to permitting? But yeah, these types of ideas?
David Hunt 17:10
Yeah. Which is great, because there are some complexities around state aid rules and competition within within within the European community, obviously, which needs to be worked around. But the inflation reduction, so which is great, obviously, from a global perspective, and great for the US, but also great for Europe, in the in actually having that stimulus or that that something to compete with, or something to do to work on site. And of course, there’s still continually the pressures from, from China, in terms of their dominance in many areas of the clean tech sector. And again, particularly on batteries, of course, and vehicles and our own solar many, many areas. So there’s a lot of like, say, a perfect storm of challenges, I guess. But with every challenge comes an opportunity. And it sounds like at last the the the policymakers have seen this as an opportunity on a number of scales, as we’re already sort of touched on, which is, which is refreshing, any of the key elements, because again, we had in 2021, jewels are really bumper investment year for clean tech in Europe. And each one of this year obviously was was I think, you know, on a similar track, and obviously the second half of the year with what’s going on, it’s eased off a little bit. But still, actually, it’s been a good year overall for investment in the European clean tech, right?
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 18:17
Yes. So the preliminary numbers that we’re looking at, show that we will likely be just a, you know, a bit shy of the records of last year. So if I look at 2021, there were about 12 billion euros invested in Euclid, Dec. That’s venture capital only. So from seed to growth equity. And from everything we’re looking at right now, likely we will end up you know, a bit a bit shy of that. So it won’t be another record year. And it certainly won’t stay on the growth path that we were on. For the last few years. Right, we doubled from 2020 to 2021. So there’s no way we’re going to double this year. So in a way, you could see that as a slowdown in another way, you could see that as the second highest year on record for for Europe. Do it. Yeah, here is this for you have, you know, half full or half empty your your your choice. But I think the way we look at this is, you know, in 2021, you had the highest ever year for provincial capital in Europe. But at the same time, the scale at which clean tech was deployed was still extremely small. So if you look at hydrogen, for instance, the mix of green hydrogen in total hydrogen used in Europe was 4% in 2021. And we need to get to 75% by 2030, according to the latest EU proposals. So that’s just to say even with huge venture capital amounts, we’re still at, you know, an order of magnitude away from where we need to be in terms of scale. Right and in terms of final investment decisions. So that’s just to say the cleantech venture capital firms in the space have been you have been pioneers really they’ve been able to take this this sector in Europe from nothing to a state where we have most of the technologies, we need to decarbonize and to reach energy security. But now there needs to be another step change, which is okay, how do we get to the type of scale of capital that we need to have the solutions? really widely deployed? Right, not just at the venture capital level, but how do we get product finance? How do we get product guarantees? How do we get loans? How do we get you know, all the apparatus you need to really scale these technologies?
David Hunt 20:31
Yeah, and those are increasingly complex challenges. And obviously necessary issues. If we start to scale and look really infrastructure size changes within within Europe, because it’s always interesting when we were Hyperion worked primarily with VCs. And we’ve companies are sort of ABC round, so relatively early in the journey. And there’s been a lot of really good investment in clean tech offs in the last few years from that kind of level of disruptive a lot of great companies a few unicorns, obviously coming from that as well. But where are the challenges are we finding are seeing the big sums of money, the growth capital, and the sort of the real infrastructure money following through
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 21:05
from our discussions with the kind of scale up ecosystem and the scale of coalition that we built with companies like HP, green steel, and Sunfire, and eco Sam volta trucks and a few others, we see four key challenges. One is definitely around finance. Because again, you need to take it from that kind of series, see growth equity, to, you know, really hundreds of millions of euros that need to go into into scale up for each of these companies, right. And you don’t really have the funders in Europe that are ready to do that. Because there’s, there’s a real gap between the growth equity stage and the kind of the project finance stage, you need to have first of the kind deployments, you need to have, you know, significant balance sheet if you want to do these first big projects. So there’s really a gap there. And I think, you know, one of the the ideas we’re pursuing right now is could public finance step in for some of these projects and act as you know, a bit of a pioneer a bit of a risk taker? To really bridge that, you know, from from one to 257 projects live? So that’s one area. The second area is on demand? How do you really catalyse the demand for these technologies? And that, you know, in some cases, for instance, the latent demand is there, right. So when hydrogen, for instance, there’s huge demand for green hydrogen. That being said, that demand that demand can’t really be met right now, because of additionality rules. And because of lack of renewables on the grid, right? So how do you enable the demand to be realised in a way is really, really important. Third is around all the regulatory barriers that the scaleups are facing. So think about permitting, think about siting approval processes, standards. I mean, there’s so many things that need to be to be worked on in each individual sector. And finally, there’s still a real lack of infrastructure in Europe to enable that that scale of right. So how do you build the charging infrastructure? How do you build the, you know, the hydrogen transport infrastructure? How do you build the renewables and the grid infrastructure. So until we have all of these pieces, the real scale up will really struggle to to take off,
David Hunt 23:21
it is all about scale. And as you say, I think a lot of the we will know that all the technology is kind of exist in one shape or form or another, the course will evolve. But we have all of the tools primarily, but it is around the scale and the challenges that that faces as a treat, actually, because again, you had the Bill Gates Breakthrough Energy Foundation, joining you are becoming involved. And they have been quite game changing, I think because again, they’ve worked with or supported a number of our clients and us where they’re dropping huge ticket sizes. But a obviously the name of Bill Gates and be the size of money that they have, hopefully is showing that you know, the situation is ripe for these kinds of major investments because there’s always risk and government’s always wary of risk of white elephant projects that come to nothing. They’ve always been plenty of those in certain in the UK, and then across Europe as well. But that kind of involvement from figureheads like that who are bringing substantial money to the as well as expertise, I think has to be a good thing for Europe, of course, I
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 24:16
mean, they’re incredibly important partners to this, this initiative, we couldn’t have done it without them. I think the reality is they’ve really understood that one, you need a systemic change. If if you want these clean technologies to raise you need, obviously to support the innovation stage, but you also need to support the scale up. You need to you know, understand what what supportive policy for clean tech means. And so they’ve really taken a holistic approach and worked alongside the value chain to to facilitate at each step. I think the second thing they’ve understood is just the power of the network. Right. And they’ve been it’s been really important to them to mobilise the entire clean tech network. So friends As in Europe, we’ve worked with clean tech Scandinavia in the Nordics with, with clean tech Estonia, in in the Baltics, and yeah, this this ability to bring everyone around the table and to mobilise the whole ecosystem is also extremely important.
David Hunt 25:16
Definitely. So let’s look at it’s been a good year for in 2020, with some key policy changes. And the thing was really pleasing. For many of us who watch things like cop, the cop and cop 27 Recently, where it’s kind of fairly deflating, but then you look this year at the inflation Reduction Act in the US and the impact that’s had you look at some of the good stuff that we just talked about in Europe and the responses to that. So and again, as we said, are sort of a bumper, second record year ever in terms of investment. So there’s so many good things going on or have happened this year. We still have the backdrop, of course, to the energy crisis in the war in Ukraine, we still have the backdrop to high inflationary pressures. But how do you see the landscape in 2023, from both an investment perspective, and also from a continuation of these policy discussions?
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 26:00
Yeah. So I mean, if if we were to take a bit of a darker stance, you know, we’ve only seen the start of the energy crisis. It’s now getting really cold in Europe. And it remains to be seen whether we have what it takes to get through this winter. Not even mentioning the next one. Yeah. So I think we should all be prepared for a difficult few months ahead. Obviously, nothing compared with what our friends in Ukraine are going through. But you know, we’re all going to be somewhat. Yeah. Feeling some of the the effects of that. And I think it’s really important to also have a look at what that means for European industry and what reactions that may create on the political front. Right. So that’s, that’s one thing to really look out for and and be attentive to. The other is not under estimating the reaction that the inflation Reduction Act is causing in Europe, right. And, you know, I think, to some extent, so we need first off, Let’s applaud the inflation Reduction Act, it was something that we’ve been waiting for on the US side for years, and, you know, kudos to them for getting it passed. That being said, it creates a number of big problems for the EU, because it’s our level of ambition, and also simplicity, that is going to be really, really hard for us to match. Even if we end up matching the the numbers, which is going to be challenging. We are still facing in Europe, a system that is quite complicated to operate for newcomers, and for startups and scaleups. If you look at how to apply for EU funding, for instance, it’s incredibly complicated in Europe, whereas in the US, the DoD gives you a call and says, Hey, you know, we have this interesting pot of money? Seems like you’re doing good stuff, do you want to put in an application, right? And so there’s a whole change of mindset that needs to happen in Europe if we want to compete with something like that. So overall, our how we look at 2023 is okay, clean tech is now a strategic priority for the EU. And that’s great. But now we need to help the EU build its clean tech strategy while delivering on it, because we don’t have much time. And so, again, how do you mobilise the right funding? With simplicity? How do you create the demand? How do you work on the remaining regulatory hurdles? And then how do you accelerate the infrastructure build up? And I think if we’re able to, yeah, to help the new advance on all of these important workflows, then we’ll have done good impact over over the year. But again, it’s going to be incredibly challenging, because the, the Yeah, the external situation is quite challenging,
David Hunt 28:41
I think is a good point. Also, again, you look at some of the forward pricing into the next, you know, winter, as you say, it’s not something we’re gonna be fixed as soon as we get to the spring, and it’s gonna be challenging winter, on many levels. Yeah, I guess, touching back to the point you’ve made there around things moving quickly. And again, I’ve got some clients who exactly have had that theory money coming through or applications relatively straightforwardly, because of some of the work that they’re doing. Do you recognise or hope to see this year that there will be a speeding of processes within the policymaking environments? And, again, when we first spoke, and I think it’s sort of a key theme of one of the big reports from clean tech for Europe, this kind of European man on the moon moment, really is that leap of great potential. But with that, of course, as with the moon landings, you had to break quite a lot of rules and regulations and barriers, real and perceived in order to get there. How do you see that sort of feeling in Brussels? Perhaps we do need to just break a few rules along the way or change them obviously, rather than break them but you know, move things forward in a different way.
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 29:44
Yeah. I mean, if I were completely honest, I think this is going to take a while longer. I mean, again, it’s a it’s a complete cultural change in a way. And it’s a mindset changes that we need to affect but that’s, you know, it’s it’s hard to do this in the space of a year right? So I think what we’re seeing is we’re starting to see a number of, I would say, cleantech champions in various positions in the EU, a lot of them in funding institutions. So thinking about the EIB, if the IC, are doing really tremendous work. So I think with with those types of institutions, you know, we can really help accelerate some of the processes, bring the best opportunities to them, and really accelerate some of the great financing that’s already taking place, and maybe, you know, designing some new instruments that help us respond to, to competitiveness issues, I think, on the broader kind of political realm. Yeah, it moves quite slowly. And in some cases, it has a tendency to create a lot of, you know, bureaucracy. The problem is, the bureaucracy is well intentioned. It’s, it’s to help prevent things like greenwashing and, you know, the money falling into the wrong hands. And these are all important goals, that the problem is that the people that can best navigate the bureaucracy are the people that you know, have the resources to do it. And so in a way, don’t really need extra money. And that’s, you know, we’ve come across that in instruments like the Innovation Fund, for instance, which has disproportionately gone to large incumbents, mostly because they can mobilise, you know, whole teams to complete applications for months on end, when that’s very difficult to do for, for scale ups. So again, like these, these are all things that are being designed with the best intentions, right? And some of these instruments are extremely important. But you know, to change the mindset, it takes a while. And you have to accept also that to take some risks as we were saying and to to break some eggs and you know, the the Solyndra affair in the US dollars, that these these types of failures have a big political cost, and sometimes can set back the political debate for years on end, right. So you would understand how policymakers could be a bit wary of making those types of of leaps. But at the same time, if we don’t do these leaps now, it’s going to be very hard to recover in a few years.
David Hunt 32:09
Yeah, absolutely. No, I get your point. Absolutely. It’s, it is challenging to make those risks. When, as we touched on before the historic has been a lack of information of what’s going on. And clearly, you’re bridging a gap to there to some extent. The other thing, again, that’s challenging from a policy perspective, again, is sort of the theme of elections and changing government priorities and parties having different priorities. And what’s the situation in Brussels with elections? Or European elections, which could impact positively or negatively on the year ahead,
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 32:39
right. So for everyone’s context, there will be elections and changes in administration’s in 2024, which means the second half of 2023 is going to be about programmes and campaigning, etc, etc. The, I’d say, Listen, we can’t really know what’s going to happen. We’ve seen in Europe, how unpredictable elections are, again, here, I would come back to the fact that clean tech is not a does not achieve just one thing, right? It achieves decomposition, but it also achieves industrial leadership and energy security. And that characteristic of clean technologies is helping us position this as a nonpartisan issue, right? We can speak to the Greens about decarbonization, benefits of clean technologies, we can speak to conservatives about industrial leadership and jobs. And we can speak to everyone about energy security. And so it’s extremely important not to think of this as okay, we should support socialists so that they enact green green agenda, which is, you know, if that’s your belief, then great, but our focus will be on building support from all sides of the political spectrum. One because that’s, that’s how you you get to real change, but also because it’s true, like if if you are a conservative and you worry about business and competitiveness, cleantech is a real response to that we’re not making it up right. It’s it is the key to your future competitiveness. So we have to rest on the fact that clean technologies are the future and bring so many of these benefits to make this a nonpartisan but generational issue
David Hunt 34:14
and and I think has always been an easier era when you can talk about things like job creation, like account economic growth, like GDP, like like security, and then you know, if you happen to not believe in climate change, then there’s still a case for for moving into clean tech, right or or for supporting it. So it’s, it’s those things I think are important, no more so than the decarbonisation aspects and
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 34:36
same for energy security. I mean, right now, if you live in, in Eastern Europe, in Czechia, for instance, and your bills have gone up, you know, 10 times then you’re very happy that you know, invent capital has invested in Volterra and that voter is there to instal solar panels on your roof because or heat pump, because that’s actually going to decrease your your energy bills, right. So, we also have to take that into account now that we’re are actually a secretary that helps people, you know, lower their bills. And, again, that’s something that speaks to, you know, all political sides. Everyone wants to help households right now. So how do we make sure that they do that not by, you know, building too many LNG terminals to import, you know, gas from whatever, Uzbekistan. But, but instead, you know, really, really focus on on the next generation of, of technologies that can already deliver great stuff for Europe. If you look at advanced geothermal, for instance, that could provide baseload power to pretty much everyone in Europe. So again, how do you scale companies like Jay drilling in Slovakia that plan and stay invested into? So it’s just about? Yeah, showing the clear value propositions of some of these technologies? And then making sure that they connect to the political goals of energy security, industrial leadership and decarbonisation for some?
David Hunt 36:01
Yeah. How do you deal with the challenge because again, this week, there’s some brilliant potential brilliant news from fusion with with with events this week, of getting to a point where obviously, energy out was behind on energy and long way to go there, of course, but potentially game changing technology, there’s a lot of noise and throw off around green hydrogen, which again, has absolutely huge potential, but equally has a lot of players who are embellishing, shall we say, at best? Some of the use cases and and benefits of that. So how do you as an organisation, because again, your if anything that translated to policymakers? How do you deal with the reps of technologies that are at play? And the challenges of where do you focus your time as an organisation? because that in itself is almost like a Halloween elephant? It’s kind of so big and so vast, where do you start as a few person and for your organisation? How do you deal with and how do you start to work out? Which bits are we focusing on this year? And what can we achieve realistically in the in the course of a year, for example?
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 37:00
Well, I mean, first, I’ll say we’re certainly not alone in what we do. Right. And I mentioned a few other organisations that are working in specific sectors, because we would never have the bandwidth to do that in every sector. Right. So I’m thinking of the renewable hydrogen coalition, for instance, in hydrogen, and thinking about negative emissions platform, for instance, for carbon removal, and many, many others. I guess what I’m trying to say is, we’re not going to clean everything up is not going to bring the solution to every sector. There are sector organisations in Brussels and in member states that are doing that. Very well. Your question is fair, though, how, you know, how do we bring to policymakers some of the most interesting and important technologies, I think, again, it has to it has to come from, what is it that the policymaker or politician is trying to achieve? For talking about energy security, we’re going to bring, depending on the country we’re talking about, we’re going to bring a very different set of solutions. And you know, if we’re talking whatever pure pure pure decarbonisation, right, so it’s really about contextually using those things. We honestly started from a list of areas where we felt there was the potential for impact and a kind of European right to win in way. So if you look at renewable hydrogen, for instance, you know, we have some of the top players in electrolyzer technology in Europe. So why wouldn’t we be the global leaders in renewable hydrogen? Right? And then once you’ve identified that, well, then you have to build a whole value chain and the whole support system to make that happen, right? Same for green CO we have the availability of, of renewables of hydrogen and have technology to make it happen. So why wouldn’t you no idea or why wouldn’t Sweden become a leader in green steel? So we’ve really tried to identify, Okay, where are some areas where the you can really win. And we’ll make those top priorities. And then we obviously have a second tier that maybe a bit more early stage. So I was mentioning geothermal, for instance, there’s some, you know, late stage, geothermal that’s happening, which is really great. But for the more advanced kind of deep drilling stuff, we know it’s a few years out. So we’re going to place it in context where we know it can wait for, you know, five years before a big deployment, right? So it’s also it’s, it’s right to win for the EU, but it’s also temporal, right? You have to bring the solution because if someone asks you to solve a problem for the next winter, and you bring them a solution that will only be ready in five or 10 years. You’ve kind of missed the point, which is the same for fusion. I mean, the excellent news from from the US. There is excellent news from France as well a few a few months ago. But again, like how do you place that in a temporal context where you’re not misleading policymakers about what it could achieve? Because if they don’t get prepared for what’s happening in the meantime, then again, you’ve kind of provided the wrong advice.
David Hunt 39:54
Yeah, yeah. No, absolutely. Absolutely. So we are by definition within the clean tech sector up to lists. That being said, what do you see with your optimistic realistic head for 2023 as being some of the key things, if we’re talking again this time next year that you would have, hopefully, we will have seen in Europe in the in the year to come? Yeah. So
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 40:15
this is my wish list, right? My wish list would honestly, it would start with on the financing front, I do think we need to match the hundreds of billions of dollars that are going to be made available in the US. But again, it’s almost always less worried about the amount and more worried about how easy it is for FinTech companies to tap into these amounts. If we make hundreds of billions of euros available, but only make them available to incumbents, we’re going to, you know, make huge bets in CCUS. And number Charles, so how do we make this money available to clean tech startups and scaleups is really important. That would be my kind of wish, wish number one. You know, for for the rest? I guess, you know, if we’ve managed to, if we managed to shift the debate about energy security to a full debate about clean tech, I think I think that’ll be a big win as well. If if the EU understand that. It’s its future, its independent future is with renewables and clean technologies, and not with LNG. Again, we’ll have it’ll be a big winner. And I’m not saying let’s not get prepared for next winter, right? I’m saying there’s a real possibility that if you deploy some technologies fast enough, that you know, two, three winters down the line, you’re not gonna need that stuff anymore. And so how do we get in the position to do that? That’d be, that’d be my wish. Wish number two. And then wish number three is? How can we make this a whole of Europe opportunity? Again, we started initiatives in the Nordics and the Baltics, in France, in Germany. We’d really love to start initiative in Iberia in Central and Eastern Europe, you know, how do we make sure that every European country is positioning itself to be a leader in the new economy is extremely important for us? I think we will have failed if we make this only an opportunity for, you know, Germany, Sweden and France. And so it’s Yeah, that’s a really important part of our mission as well is how do we make sure innovators and investors in Yeah, in some of these other countries are also scaling up and reaping the benefits for their local markets? Yeah,
David Hunt 42:37
regionally reaping those benefits that you say, well, brilliant, listen, it’s great to have a catch up with and hear your thoughts for the garden and the aspirations for the year ahead. For the audience, where can they go to find out some more about your work and find out more about the landscape within the European clean tech sector
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 42:51
sources, they can go to clean tech for europe.com. And find all of our publications which range from you know, the research type to relay the political recommendations type. So have a look, send us your feedback. always really interesting to have the input from the full community and not just the coalition’s that that we host. If you want to get further, we have an event coming up in Brussels on January 25, which is going to be a relatively small affair. But a high level gathering of all of our coalition’s and policymakers are involved in the good work. If you want to join that there’s a link to requesting an invite, again, it’s going to be a relatively small events, I can’t guarantee your seat to everyone. But you know, please flag if, if you’re interested. And beyond that, I’m sure I’ll have the pleasure of seeing your listeners, you know, all all cre tech events across Europe in the next few months.
David Hunt 43:48
Yeah, looking forward to many of them. And thanks, again for showing up. So we’ll make sure on the episode pages, we’ll post links to all of the various sites where you can find a bit more about jewels and the work that the clean tech for your organisation are doing. It’s been a great an exciting year for clean tech globally, particularly in Europe, especially as we’ve just heard. So thanks very much for all of those who are active in the sector. And for those who listen to the podcast. And now watch the podcast. If you do, then please do make sure that you subscribe on the podcast platform of your choice or subscribe on the new YouTube channel. So you make sure in the new year, you keep abreast of what’s going on. We’ve got lots of guests already lined up for for January, February next year. So there’s a lot of events in the sector coming up in the first quarter of next year. And we will try and share be party to those as well. George, thanks very much for joining us. Great to have the update. Have a great Christmas. Have a busy year ahead, I’m quite sure. Likewise, our listeners enjoy the festive period. And yeah, lots of work for sorts of them in 2023. But again, lots of really exciting opportunities for us all. So thanks for joining us. And thanks, Jules.
Jules Besnainou – Cleantech for Europe 44:45
Thank you and good luck to everyone in 2023. We need you all to succeed. Thank you. All right, thanks, David.