Gilles L’Haridon of the Marine Renewable Energy Projects Development team
The ENGIE Group is a pioneer in renewable marine energy, and was recently appointed by the French government to build the first pilot hydrokinetic power plant in the Alderney Race, to the west of the Cherbourg peninsula. Gilles L’Haridon of the Group’s Marine Renewable Energy Projects Development team tells us more about this marine renewable energy project of the future and his career with ENGIE .
This interview with Gilles appeared in issue 73 of Grandes Ecoles et Universités magazine
What are the specific features that set marine hydrokinetic energy apart from other energy sources ?
Because it is driven by tides and currents, it is a predictable source of energy, and one that has very little visual impact on the landscape, since the turbines are installed beneath the water. The associated technologies are still at the demonstration stage, but once those have been tested in pilot plants with a few turbines each, we can expect to see industrial-scale power plants with perhaps a hundred turbines installed in France, where we have generating potential of around 3 GW, and in the wider Europe, especially the UK.
What gives ENGIE the edge in this market ?
With its strong practical commitment to renewables – it’s France’s leading generator of onshore wind power – the ENGIE Group covers every power plant project phase, from site development to plant construction and 25-year operation and maintenance. It also has strong regional roots, enabling it to engage in a constructive dialog with all stakeholders, from local councilors to institutions, fishermen and non-profit organizations. As a leading contributor to sustainable development, the Group is also a proactive stakeholder in local economic development.
What do you find fascinating about your job ?
In a role that combines technical skills with innovation, I work alongside the teams in a diverse range of disciplines, from on-site engineering (current intensity) and plant engineering (turbines, foundations, etc.) to onshore grid connection and work at sea, as well as the financial and risk management aspects. I also meet with other stakeholders on a regular basis, and find this permanent contact with the realities of company life extremely motivating.
Why did you join the Group ?
The Group offers a broad range of modular career opportunities backed by dynamic professional development policies. It supports the development of its most talented people and gives them the opportunity to enter industry sectors that don’t yet exist, as was the case with hydrokinetics only five years ago. It’s a Group with real team spirit and a commitment to entrepreneurship; a business that understands how to promote the development of great innovative opportunities like the hydrokinetics projects we work on. It’s a pioneer opening up great industrial adventures in sectors of the future.