Interview with Jean-Charles Pauze, chairman of Rexel’s management board

rexel international study energy efficiencyWhy has this international survey on energy efficiency been carried out?

Because there’s a lot at stake. We know that professionals are aware of what’s at stake, but we needed to know how the general public perceive the issue, what their everyday habits are and what encourages them to take action or holds them back from doing so. This question is not only of interest to professionals in this field. It also interests public authorities, specialist associations…and above all, citizens and consumers. With the increase in fuel prices on the one hand and the Fukushima disaster on the other, consumers are worried about their buying power and the future in terms of energy and ecology. This study enables them to see their everyday habits in a wider context and find new ways to take concrete action.

  • What is Rexel’s position as far as energy efficiency is concerned?

As a leader, close to its daily customers across the world, and particularly committed to promoting eco-efficient solutions, we felt it was necessary to do an overall review and make the results available to all those who can make a difference in terms of electrical efficiency. As we are present in 36 countries, we also wished to underline the differences in practices and perceptions between 4 large countries. Although the issues may be global, there are still cultural, historical and economic particularities. Like all global and multi-local players, we have to take those differences into account.

  • As a leader in the distribution of electrical supplies, how do you see the energy efficiency market evolving?

The market is dynamic; there is no doubt about that. At Rexel, we take great pride in offering our clients the most innovative solutions in terms of electrical efficiency and we have seen our clients invest our sales of renewable energy solutions (wind turbines, photovoltaic) increased by 40% between 2009 and 2010, amounting to almost 270 million euros in 2010; our sales in low-energy light fittings amounted to 230 million in 2010 (an increase of 35% compared to 2009). Our consultancy and service business lines are also growing: for example, we are involved in the energy and technical management of buildings and in the field of low-energy lighting for private companies or local authorities. For example, we worked on the renovation of the electrical infrastructure of the Eden Park stadium in Auckland where many of the 2011 Rugby world cup matches have taken place. Today, around a third of our turnover comes from the provision of energy efficient solutions.

  • What is Rexel doing to promote energy efficiency?

We were among the first to develop custom-made consultancy services for our clients, guaranteeing them a return on their investment in the field of electrical efficiency. Information is needed to accelerate the development of energy efficiency. The survey results make that clear. That’s why Rexel has launched the website, available in both French and English, to give clients and partners easy access to information about the market, solutions and rules. In terms of network, we provide information and training for installers through targeted sessions in our 2,200 agencies. These training sessions can go on to become certification systems, as is the case of photovoltaic systems in France. We also take part in the industry’s debates and actions.

Of course, as a company, we have drawn up a number of actions to minimise our energy consumption and reduce the impact of our activity on the environment.

  • What is particularly striking about these results?

The sense of responsibility among citizens. Our survey shows that 91% of French people consider that it is up to consumers to take action in favour of energy efficiency, rather than the state or industrialists. That means there is huge potential for developing electricity efficiency. I was also interested to see that citizens would like to be able to see the results of their efforts in the form of lower energy bills. I think that is something we as professionals should look at in the future.

  • What are your priorities and what can you do straightaway?

I am convinced that we should increase our efforts to reduce energy consumption in buildings. Why? Because buildings currently account for 40% of world energy consumption. Rexel is taking up the challenge through the promotion of energy efficient solutions and the development of its custom consultancy services and training sessions for professionals. We must continue to inform people about the attitudes and technologies that improve energy savings, both within the industry and in institutions,

  • Any final comments?

Tomorrow’s world should consume less energy and use it more efficiently. Electricity will have a prominent position among ways of using energy. With the development of renewable energy, home automation and the convergence of thermal, digital and electrical worlds, everything suggests that electricity will be central to the development of energy solutions for tomorrow.

This survey shows that we are moving towards a new energy model. As a market leader, Rexel is particularly involved in accelerating change, helping clients to find eco-efficient solutions and continuing to play a driving role in energy efficiency issues within the electrical field.

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