Helping the energy transition entrepreneurs Interview


Mai 2024 – Se concentrer sur les petites et moyennes entreprises au moment crucial de la transition entre le démarrage et la croissance est la clé pour accélérer la transition énergétique de l’Europe, selon Nicolas Rochon, CEO & Founder de RGREEN INVEST, Cédric Lacaze, Managing Partner et Jacques Çikurel, Senior Investment Director. Contrairement à l’énergie traditionnelle, ce secteur est dominé par de petits entrepreneurs, et ces acteurs sont d’une importance critique pour réussir la transition.

La société de gestion française, indépendante, certifiée B Corp et entreprise à mission, investissait initialement des montants allant de 20 millions à 30 millions d’euros, mais à mesure que les investisseurs se sont tournés vers cette classe d’actifs, la taille des investissements de l’entreprise a également augmenté ; elle est maintenant d’environ 75 millions à 100 millions d’euros. Les trois dirigeants réfléchissent à l’évolution de ce secteur, à sa direction future et à la raison pour laquelle ce sont les plus petits acteurs qui seront les plus importants dans ce processus.


Q Why are investors flocking to transition assets?


Cédric Lacaze: What makes the en­ergy transition proposition attractive for investors is the natural protec­tion the asset class offers against in­flation. Interest rates have gone up, driving discount rates higher and negatively impacting the valuation of the assets.At the same time, the price of elec­tricity has also increased, driving reve­nues higher, which offsets the negative impact of rising interest rates and pro­tects the value of the assets. Transition assets thus have a natural hedge against inflation, particularly in countries de­pendent on fossil fuels, that is not true for other infrastructure assets. When interest rates go down, as they are likely to do in the future, dis­count rates will follow, providing an uplift to the current valuations. This means investors deploying capital to­day would be positioning well for real­ising the upside in a resilient asset class.


Q What are the main sectors that are attractive to investors at present?


Jacques Cikurel: We think there are three key pillars: renewables, electrification and energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is more in the value-add space and therefore not our top priority, although we could get involved in an opportunistic way. Renewables is the most mature of the three pillars and whilst there are significant opportunities in areas such as solar, wind and hydro power, some areas of innovation may offer the best future returns. We are also looking at areas such as biogas and geothermal and have been involved in one project at Disneyland Paris which is currently small but indicates the potential of the subsector. Electrification is a less mature area than renewables but also somewhere where innovation is important. We see a lot of activity and opportunities in electric vehicle charging and battery storage infrastructure. Storage is clearly going to be very important as we move into an environment where we need to fully capture the potential of renewables.


Nicolas Rochon: That innovation is crucial. You are not going to make significant money by investing only in the vanilla projects. We are constantly looking at areas of innovation such as what is happening in the agri solar area in Europe, where you are combining energy generation with other benefits for long-term sustainability.


[Infrastructure Investor: Helping the energy transition entrepreneurs…]