Embracing the Challenge: From Mobility to Decarbonization

In 2015, a transformative dinner conversation spurred a journey from South Africa to Paris, catalyzed by a friend deeply involved in the Paris Climate Agreement negotiations.
In 2015, while living in South Africa I met with a friend of mine for dinner who was one of the negotiators of the Paris Climate Agreement. He explained how the world was about to change course to avert a climate crisis. Conservation had always been an interest of mine and with my wife pregnant with our first child, I was committed to play a role in this exciting future. So I sold my business in South Africa and moved to Paris, inspired by the achievements of Cop 15. In 2016, we started the world’s first event to focus on new mobility solutions – Autonomy Paris. They were exciting times: World leaders had signed the Paris agreement the year before, interest rates were close to zero so start-up funding was abundant and it felt like flying cars, robotaxis and hyperloops were around the corner. Nearly a decade on, personal mobility has changed for the better and we are proud of the role we have had to play in hosting major European cities and connecting innovators and policy makers.

But unfortunately, we are way behind the targets set by the Paris climate agreement and at the present trajectory, the future of our children looks bleak. So I have decided to broaden the scope of Autonomy to focus on decarbonization and four technologies that I believe have the best potential to radically reduce emissions; Solar, batteries, EVs and Autonomous tech.

Solar panels have come down in price so quickly that they are now the cheapest form of energy with a payback period around five years for an asset that lasts 25 years. We are also excited by the opportunity for solar in France thanks to the new law making it compulsory to cover car parking bays of more than 1500m2 with solar panels.

As solar energy is intermittent, energy storage is crucial and I have been amazed at the speed California has installed 6,600 MW of battery storage capacity, a 1020% increase since 2020. Europe has to bring energy prices down now that cheap Russian Gas is no longer available and the quickest and cheapest way to do this is with solar and battery storage.

With stored electricity, EVs make a lot more sense and the banning of all combustion vehicles in Paris starting in 2030 is around the corner. We believe that we will quickly start to see solar, batteries and EVs connected together which brings us to our fourth vertical – autonomous technology. Over the last few years, we have hosted some of Europe’s leading AV companies at Autonomy in Paris and our dedicated AV summit in London and we believe that we are about to see the deployment of this technology starting to scale.

I am extremely excited about how AV shuttles can improve public transport in cities and reduce the use of single occupancy vehicles. I also believe that AI will play a major role in managing energy from the grid and solar panels into battery storage and EVs and back to the grid or other microgrids when there is a price arbitrage.

We believe that this next frontier is an extremely exciting place to be and like we were pioneers in the mobility space, we want to be pioneers here too.

With that in mind, welcome to the Global Decarbonization Expo & Summit, France’s first international event on the subject.
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