Arnaud Real del Sarte, a veteran of the oil industry and now a partner at renewable energy company CVE, answers Leaders League’s questions about the bridges to be built between these two industries.
Leaders League. Would you tell us a bit about CVE please?
Arnaud Real del Sarte. CVE's history is relatively recent, starting in 2009. CVE is an independent, multi-country, multi-renewable energy operator, producing locally with short supply circuits to businesses and local authorities. We are active in the solar power market, which accounts for more than 90% of our business, as well as in biogas and hydroelectricity. We are developing an innovation process that will allow us to build new energy models using new technologies, such as floating solar.
Beyond France, we are also active in the United States, Chile and in Africa. With turnover of €33 million last year, we are a relatively small company but we have strong growth ambitions for the future.
What are the similarities between oil & gas and renewable forms of energy?
Although very different, these two industries do have in common the fact that they are structured around a project. All internal processes are structured around this basic principle and are then structured around the five phases of the production cycle: development, financing, construction, operation and sale of energy.
The development phase is certainly less technical in the world of renewable energy. The oil industry requires extremely specialized skills. Nevertheless, we employ the Geographic Information System (GISI) to identify the location of future plants. In addition, we have recently acquired the skills of a data analyst in order to capitalize on the huge amounts of data available to us. For example, we use this data to guide our predictive maintenance.
Project funding, on the other hand, is very similar in both industries as this is capital intensive. But when you get down to it, the barriers to entry are basically the same: the acquisition of land or oil and gas field and financing.
"Employees do not join CVE by chance, they have a very strong passion for the environment and are often seeking to give meaning to their professional career"
Will the current pandemic-related crisis push skills toward your industry do you think?
We usually prefer to recruit employees directly from the EnR world because they are more plug & play. There is an inevitable movement that will bring candidates from oil & gas towards renewable energies. We are a relatively new industry, and with companies in the sector recruiting massively many are having difficulty finding the right people with the right talents. Bringing in people from the oil industry who have experienced very standardized and highly professional environments could bring us something beyond the fundamental element of project knowledge.
However, we must keep in mind that our employees do not join CVE by chance, they have a very strong passion for the environment and are often seeking to give meaning to their professional career by joining a company with strong social and environmental commitments. We have tasked ourselves with becoming a mission company, and our strategy being based on the human project.
How has the covid crisis affected CVE?
EnR is a resilient sector that has been less impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic than other industries. The impact on our 2020 results will not be significant. Our development projects, on the other hand, are experiencing delays of two to six months, due in particular to slow procedures with local authorities. Production at our fields in France was also stopped for a time, while those located abroad were able to continue.