Q&A with Lionel Le Maux
President, Aqua Asset Management & Co-Founder, Transition Monaco Forum
YOU HAVE BEEN INVESTING IN THE ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT SECTOR FOR MANY YEARS. HOW HAS THE SECTOR CHANGED OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS?
The sector has changed significantly over the past 10 years. First, the environmental transition has shifted from a communications issue to an economic issue that is forcing companies to transform their business models at an accelerated pace. This is exactly what happened with digital about 15 years ago. Today, the environmental transition is like an analysis grid that is forcing all sectors and companies to assess the impact of climate change and examine the environmental impact of their business models and strategies.
The other major evolution has been falling costs, which has played a major role in the expansion of renewable energy in recent years. In the digital revolution, it was when the cost of mobile phones and broadband dropped that they became ubiquitous. In the environmental sector, technological innovations have significantly reduced the costs of solar and wind power generation and energy storage, thus greatly accelerating the growth of renewables. We are even reaching grid parity with solar in many locations around the world.
WHAT ARE THE KEY FACTORS YOU LOOK AT WHEN IDENTIFYING INVESTMENTS IN COMPANIES INVOLVED IN THE ECOLOGICAL AND ENERGY TRANSITION?
In general, we look at the same factors that one looks for in any kind of investment, such as the barriers to entry or sales strategies with a point of differentiation. But some specific things I look at in environmental investments are how the business model of a company has been impacted by climate change and the environmental impact. It could be a company already in a segment which is going to grow because the segment is growing (i.e. solar); or a more traditional company for which environmental changes or climate change has impacted its mode of production, distribution or communication. What interests us is companies for which the energy transition is an opportunity for them to redefine their business models, whether it be its mode of production or its relationship with the consumer.
WHAT OUTCOMES SHOULD PARTICIPANTS EXPECT FROM TRANSITION MONACO FORUM?
The first key takeaway for participants at our inaugural Forum in Monaco will be the opportunity to join a diverse community of actors across all sectors and industries – investors, large companies, start-ups, academics, members of civil society, policy makers—allowing them to have a very broad, 360-degree vision of the ecosystem of the energy and ecological transition.
The second main outcome is to have a truly international vision of the ecological and energy transition, formed from the experiences and input of key stakeholders coming from all corners of the globe. They will be able to evolve in a supportive community of people with shared interests and with whom they can identify and share best practices and the best ways to accelerate growth while taking into account the environmental transition.