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    Incumbents are Needed for Transition: GasTerra CEO


Proponents of the green energy revolution can only accomplish so much without the deep pockets and the experience of the incumbents, argues GasTerra CEO Annie Krist.

by: William Powell

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Incumbents are Needed for Transition: GasTerra CEO

There are still, "fortunately," enough rational people who recognise that the transition to a renewable energy economy is a lot more difficult if not impossible without the deep pockets and experience of the establishment, the CEO of Dutch marketer GasTerra Annie Krist said September 5. And the establishment has been working in that direction for years, she said, addressing the opening of the academic year of the Economics and Business Studies Faculty in Groningen University.

She said: "It is fashionable in some circles to be very critical of large industrial energy companies like Shell, but this is counter-productive. Everyone needs to realise that the huge investments that are needed for the energy transition cannot come exclusively from innovative start-ups, companies specialising in sustainable energy or the individual taxpayer." Anglo-Dutch Shell and the US major ExxonMobil each own 25% of GasTerra, the state owning the other half.

She said that in the past 15 years, GasTerra has spent "millions of euros on transition projects, research and providing information in this area." As just one example, she said, Gasunie made an active contribution by stimulating and facilitating the development of the high-efficiency boiler, when energy saving became a hot item after the first oil crisis in the 1970s.

Replacing boilers on a large scale allows a country to quickly cut its CO2 emissions by double-digit percentage figures, and the same is true of insulation measures and the replacement of coal and oil by natural gas, she said.

Observing the apparent contradiction of energy companies reducing sales opportunties, she said they did so "hopefully because they want to do business in a socially responsible manner but mainly on the basis of enlightened self-interest. After all, it is clear to everyone that the best days of the current fossil energy-based energy system lie behind us. 

"These companies are vital to a fast and successful transition to a climate-neutral energy supply, but will nevertheless have to continue to draw on fossil sources for a long time to come. And the fact that they are essential brings hard duties and also opportunities with it. Their duty is to make improving sustainability a central part of corporate strategy," she said. Her speech may be read here.