FOCUS/Their leaders or founders are particularly sensitive to energy transition. They have created a product or recommenced development to generate energy enabling us to protect our planet. Some Monegasque examples.
Essential water born from the sun
PORTRAIT/Since 2006, with Eaunergie, Mehdi Hadj-Abed has developed solutions to make water drinkable using solar energy
Mehdi Hadj-Abed got it. Water is the source of all life and in a world where fresh water reserves are shrinking — 1.1 billion people in the world lack access to drinking water1 — the entrepreneur in his forties has been developing filtering and desalinising devices for almost 10 years now. The idea behind his company, Eaunergie, was born when he worked for Weir Entropie, a company manufacturing large machines to desalinise seawater. “I wanted to work on a mobile solution,” Mehdi Hadj-Abed recalls. “I got the chance when I came to Monaco in 2006. ” In March 2006, he won his first competition at the “New Generation Entrepreneurs Forum” and that November the government prize with the Junior Chamber International Monaco, the competition organiser. On that occasion he was offered 40 000 euro and the chance to base his company in Monaco. Mehdi Hadj-Abed registered the articles of association in July 2007 and Eaunergie was born.
That timing was good as the Albert II Foundation was established in that period. He develops his machines enabling water to be filtered and desalinised using solar energy, and in collaboration with international cooperation, since 2008 his devices have supplied a small dispensary in Mauritania and an oasis in Morocco. “But in 2008 and 2010, the two financial crises cancelled the government funding,” the entrepreneur recalls. That was a hard blow, and just when Mehdi Hadj-Abed hoped his products were looking to the humanitarian sector, he had to change his position due to a lack of resources. “I would have expected a little more support,” he says. “At the same time, I experienced a trough.” But Eaunergie continued to attract people, it won several European bids, in 2007 it was the first to install a solar station at Port Hercule in Monaco allowing irrigation with desalinated seawater, it created a kit able to desalinate 30 litres of seawater per hour, and has recently developed operating instructions allowing populations to assemble their own machine with parts they can find in their country.
Eco-friendly beach shower
Eaunergie has now recovered and has recorded a turnover of 75 000 euro. It is working on projects in Monaco such as irrigation of Quai de l’Hirondelle, the Fontvieille body of water now to be supplied with desalinated seawater. In addition, Eaunergie has offices in Central Africa, Morocco, Port-Louis in Mauritius and representations in Dubai, Chile and New Caledonia. And Mehdi Hadj-Abed has more than one idea in mind. He is currently developing a beach shower able to recycle its own wastewater. “It will be an eco-friendly shower,” he emphasises. A solution that could interest many, when the amounts wasted every year are known. In summer 2015, Les Sables-d’Olonne town hall angered tourists by closing the 8 showers on the beach – which consumed 3 million litres of water over the summer! Yet, Eaunergie cannot continue developing this tool now due to a lack of resources. Because the paradox of this Monegasque company is that it may be “too innovative” says its founder and leader. Mehdi Hadj-Abed now wants to raise awareness of the great opportunities offered by his mobile modules that are adaptable to many situations.
(1) Source World Water Council, http://www.worldwatercouncil.org
“There is fertile ground”
INTERVIEW/Eric Villalonga, manager of Monaco Green Energy and president of the Chambre de l’énergie renouvelable et de l’écologie de Monaco (Cerem – Monaco Chamber of Renewable Energy and Ecology).
How is Monaco Chamber of Renewable Energy and Ecology (Cerem) doing?
We have doubled our headcount, moving from 6 to 12 companies in Cerem. That is not bad for Monaco. These are companies that want to achieve things in renewable energy. Monaco has a reputation for renewable energy and consulting, which is extremely well placed internationally. After the various COP, it could be wondered how this energy transition will be perceived: will there be accountability by business leaders or will it be perceived as global information? In the end, we are now at the desire to change things stage rather than on the engaging side.
Do you think companies are starting to get involved in energy transition?
There are companies working in the renewable energy sector. They are necessarily involved in the process, and others are starting to wonder about new technologies, new products and new regulations. Their concern is often the incurred costs of energy transition. Business leaders are wondering whether they will be able to continue with the same operations and if they will have the same turnover. But among individuals, conscience is evolving. I think there is fertile ground. As proof of that, Cerem members are very varied: we have legal consulting companies in food, development and electricity.
Is your impression that there has been a new impetus for renewable energy since COP 21?
I do feel a real impetus. As a member of Green Cross, an NGO within the UN, I have a very broad vision of planet protection. More and more countries really want to switch to renewable energy, with the idea that governments can become energy independent with renewables.
Do you feel it in your own company, Monaco Green Energy, which develops photovoltaic power plants?
Monaco Green Energy supports governments in energy transition. We are working with a dozen countries ranging from Latin America to South East Asia, from India to the Middle East and Eastern Europe. We are in full expansion, which seems to underline that mentalities are changing in favour of solar energy.
Do you think it’s easy to create a company related to renewable energy in Monaco today?
Monaco had to be present in terms of a tool for renewables. Monaco has a position of international neutrality and doesn’t scare anyone. Also, if you know how to use the right tools, and contact the right people who are already in that activity, such as Cerem, then creating a company in Monaco is quite simple. In addition, the market is so vast that there can be duplication and there won’t be competition. Monaco is supportive, and that can only help the dynamics of the sector.
_Propos recueillis par Sophie Noachovitch
Green Power, for cleaner companies
CAREER PATH/5 years ago Davis Bebicaci was seduced by the project of an engineer who invented a system allowing 15-20% reduction in fossil fuel energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from industrial boilers.
The technology is named Tev-Mag. “It’s electromagnetic technology that optimises the combustion of fossil fuels,” explains Davis Bebicaci, founder and leader of Green Power, based in Monaco. “You get the same result while consuming less fuel.” The result is that companies achieve 15%- 20% savings in the amount of fuel used, and an average 15% reduction in greenhouse gas is seen.
5 years ago, the import-export contractor Davis Bebicaci founded Green Power, an energy transition company. This native of the area pays had just met an engineer. “Tonin Danilo came to see me saying he needed a financial partner to market the product he had invented,” recalls Davis Bebicaci. So why not, he said. “I was already aware of paradigm change questions,” he explains. “Protecting nature and the ecosystem by reducing intensive farming, for example, or cutting down on meat consumption, were matters that particularly interested me already.”
Achieving COP 21 objectives
As in the legend of the humming bird, that small bird mocked by the other forest animals because it tried to put out a forest fire on its own with water it carried in its beak, Davis Bebicaci wants to “play his part” in energy transition. According to him, installation of Tev-Mag could “allow the COP 21 greenhouse gas emission reduction objectives to be met. Knowing that 40% of carbon emissions come from industry, with a 15-20% reduction, we are almost halfway to these objectives,” the entrepreneur highlights. At present, Green Power, turnover 100 000 euro, is at the end of its pilot phase in Turkey in around 10 companies. “We work with medium and large industries,” Davis Bebicaci clarifies. “For a company consuming the equivalent of a million euro of energy per year, the return on investment on our product is achieved in one year.” Tata metallurgy and Sisecam, Turkey’s largest glass producer, are among its clients. According to the business leader, the real interest of Tev-Mag is that it adapts to any type of industrial boiler in any type of business.
Davis Bebicaci now hopes to develop his product abroad and particularly in France. “We are seeking philanthropist investors to help us market our product around the world,” he says. But Green Power does not intend to be limited to Tev-Mag for industry alone. “We are developing a miniature prototype that can be adapted to individual boilers and even cars,” he announces. The prototype is currently being certified and is in line with the company’s and its manager’s intention to “lead people to change paradigm and behaviour” in a rapidly changing world.
Open sea for renewables
SEA/Installed since 1971, Single Buoy Moorings (SBM) Offshore operates on floating offshore systems in the energy sector. While oil is the main energy in these systems, the company has already begun its energy transition and focus on renewables.
With over 50% of the world population living within 60 km of the coasts, generating energy at sea means bringing production nearer the place of consumption, ” says Ambroise Wattez, commercial director for renewable energy and offshore energy systems at Single Buoy Moorings (SBM) Offshore. For this company, based in Monaco since 1971 and specialising in the development of floating offshore systems in the energy sector, it is obvious to take advantage of the “phenomenal amount of energy in the form of waves, currents, offshore winds and temperature” making up the seas and oceans. Although oil has been at the centre of SBM Offshore since its beginnings, that trend is changing. “As a global leader in the offshore sector and a pioneer in innovation, our role is to understand and pre-empt market developments to meet customer demands. They are directly related to the evolution of the energy mix,” Ambroise Wattez explains. “The share of fossil fuels is tending to shrink in favour of renewables.” The Monegasque company began its transition, by promoting research and development in marine renewable energy around ten years ago.
Floating wind turbine
Two products have come out of company laboratories. “A floating wind turbine, for which the depth of the seabed is not a constraint, that captures the best wind deposits, further from the coasts,” explains Ambroise Wattez. “That reduces the visual impact. Our technology is anchored to the seabed with a so-called “tight” line system that considerably limits the impact on the seabed and does not interfere with other marine activities.” Another solution developed by SBM Offshore is a wave energy conversion system. “It’s a real technological solution making it possible to overcome the limits of conventional systems,” the commercial director insists. According to him, this ultra light, effective and quiet product allows very low-cost electricity generation “with minimum environmental impact ”. The development of these systems allows SBM Offshore to claim that “energy transition is a reality” with – according to French Sea Observatory figures given by Ambroise Wattez – more than 2000 jobs connected with renewables development created in 2016.