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The Energy for Society Chair: mobilizing citizens for the energy transition

La Chaire Energy for Society « embarque » les citoyens dans la transition énergétique
Published on
18 November 2019

The large-scale mobilization of citizens is a key factor for pressing societal challenges in terms of climate change and the energy transition. How can companies be a part of this movement and transform this evolution into opportunities for development? The Energy for Society Chair focuses on anticipating and sharing strategies for the energy sector.

Interview with Carine Sebi, an expert on energy strategies and head of the Energy for Society Chair at Grenoble Ecole de Management. 

Grenoble Ecole de Management launched the Energy for Society Chair on Nov. 7th with three supporting partners: Air Liquide, Banque Populaire Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Engie. What is the goal of this collaborative project?

The chair’s goal is to develop avant-garde services and strategies for the energy sector. They will be based on new ambitions in terms of energy use and consumption. Today more than ever, companies have to offer up new solutions to overcome the challenges of the energy transition. This is the framework that will guide our efforts to understand how companies can become sustainable actors.

With our supporting partners, we will collaborate to understand how these strategies impact business and society as a whole. How can companies create new markets that meet both regulatory requirements and the expectations of citizens? How to offer more and consume less? How can companies coordinate their efforts to develop solutions that will impact citizens on a larger scale?

What change is currently happening in terms of models and how does this support the creation of the Energy for Society Chair?

Oddly enough, we are living in an incredible era for energy! Researchers have been working on the subjects of energy and the environment for decades and they’ve never been shown this much interest. The fundamentals of our energy model are being reversed: we have a centralized system run by actors that follow government or political instructions, and now we’re seeing markets switch towards changes that are being implemented by citizens themselves. New modes of consumption and new needs are appearing (e.g., consuming based on use and not purchasing). At the same time, the urgency of climate change stands in contrast with the inability of states to act decisively. Political leaders have a negative image and our youth are mobilizing alongside protest movements around the world. In light of this context, the Energy for Society Chair offers companies an opportunity to develop their processes and services in order to accelerate the energy transition all the while mobilizing citizen participation.

In concrete terms, what are your current research projects?

The Energy for Society Chair includes six permanent researchers who are experts in the strategic management of innovation and technology in the field of energy. The chair also has a doctoral student and a postdoctoral student, both of whom are entirely dedicated to the chair’s research work. Three research projects have been launched:

  1. 1. Understanding sustainable innovation strategies for companies:
    The goal is to analyze how companies can combine economic and societal goals through the use of CSR policies. What are emerging trends and how can middle management perceive and implement sustainable development strategies? We are going to work on the basis of annual reports and case studies as well as a surveying major French industrial groups.
  2. 2. Understanding new cooperative models to create innovative energy services: Digitalisation, the development of new energies such as hydrogen, needs in terms of flexibility and use are pushing companies to rethink their models. We will work on improving organizational models that enable companies to coordinate with complementary partners in order to create new energy services.
  3. Understanding the implications of new usages on emerging economic models in the energy sector: What strategies can companies use to respond to increasing demands from consumers to pay in terms of usage instead of paying to purchase something? What will be the implications and potential opportunities for service and equipment providers?

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