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“In discussion with Aymeric Bricout, Senior Consultant in EU energy and climate policy at Deloitte.”

Author: Natalia Vasnier Published: 21 Dec 2023


Interview n°2 of the Interview Series “Meet the changemakers” with Aymeric Bricout.


Aymeric Bricout

Aymeric joined Deloitte in 2021 as an energy and climate consultant, specialising in public and European affairs. Over the past two years, Aymeric has been involved in a number of projects carrying out prospective and strategic studies for the European Commission, the Walloon government and a player in the Belgian energy sector. His expertise focuses on the European political and regulatory framework for energy transition and climate change mitigation as well as the political and economic competitiveness issues associated with the decarbonisation of the main emitting industrial sectors (steel, chemicals, fertilisers, cement, etc.). He graduated with Distinction from Imperial College London (UK) with a degree in Environmental Technology, specialising in Energy and Climate Policy. As part of his Master's degree, he was involved in a research project at providing a comprehensive regulatory and policy framework for a progressive and resilient transition to a low-carbon power system in the European Union. For his Master's thesis, Aymeric' focused on studying the role of the European international oil and gas majors in the geopolitical landscape of the energy transition. Aymeric also holds a Master's degree in Management, with a specialisation in Economics and International Business (Magna Cum Laude - top 1%) obtained at IESEG School of Management (France).


Background and career


Could you tell us a bit about your background and where did you interest in climate change originate from?


Let’s start with my academic background, I did a Bachelor’s in Economics and Management. Then I pursued with a first Master’s degree in International Economics and Business in a French Business School. It was during that time that I discovered that I was not that interested in the international business world but rather that my interests were leaning more and more towards climate and energy policy and economics. So topics that were related to the public policy space rather than actual business. Therefore, I chose to pursue another master’s degree, at Imperial College London, in the Centre for Environmental Policy. I did a Master called Environmental Technology, where I specialised in energy and climate policy. After that I was absolutely sure that I wanted to start my career within the EU energy and climate policy and economics sector. I believe that those topics are at the nexus between many different disciplines. Policy and economics of course but also science, diplomacy, geopolitics, geography and history. During my time at Imperial, I got involved in different research projects that led to the publication of academic articles. I hesitated between going into consulting or to continue with a PhD. In the end I chose consulting and I definitely do not regret it.



What is your role as a Senior Consultant in EU energy & climate policy at Deloitte?


I work for Deloitte in Brussels where I am part of a team focusing on EU sustainability policy. I am also part of the Energy and Climate team, which does not only work on EU-related topics but also for the private sector, for instance, doing the decarbonization roadmap for companies.

"My clients are mainly the European Commission and the Belgian public authorities."

Aymeric Bricout

Aymeric’s works focuses mostly on energy and climate-related projects for the public sector. He adds, “My clients are mainly the European Commission and the Belgian public authorities. My job is to conduct research and analysis, carry out studies that help informing public decision makers in support of the transition to a low-carbon and resilient energy system. Over the past two years, I have worked on many different topics, even though hydrogen was a big focus. For instance, I have also touched upon topics related to EU policies for emerging clean energy technologies from a research and innovation angle.”



What is the role of this team within the company?


He explains that the role of the Energy and Climate team is twofold. The first, the private sector team helps companies decarbonise. He gives an interesting example of “ a steel manufacturer who wants help in setting their roadmap to decarbonise between now and 2050. The role of Deloitte would be to help the company define their decarbonisation trajectory, the levers that could be used and then provide recommendations on how to achieve those targets.”


The second side, on the policy side, which is the team that Aymeric works in, works with the Commission and for national governments. They specifically help them to make the right policy decisions.


Focus on renewable and low-carbon hydrogen


What types of projects have you been working on?


Hydrogen is a hot topic at the EU level since the publication of the European Hydrogen strategy in 2020. The role of hydrogen is more and more clear, he says, with politicians now realising that renewable and low-carbon hydrogen is going to be a very expensive energy carrier, meaning that it’s use for the energy transition will be limited to applications for which alternative decarbonisation options are not possible.

"hydrogen is perceived as the key lever to maintain our current hard to abate industrial processes and heavy transport activities in an economy that is low-carbon.”

The market for clean hydrogen is still at the very early stages. He notes that “The whole challenge is about how to create an emerging market, with producers, consumers, grid operators and cross-border trades. We need to create the enabling economic and regulatory conditions for a European and even global hydrogen market to emerge in the coming decade.”


That objective is of high interest from a political perspective, as "hydrogen is perceived as the key lever to maintain our current hard to abate industrial processes and heavy transport activities in an economy that is low-carbon.”


Aymeric Bricout

Deloitte conducted a study on Hydrogen in ports and industrial coastal areas, for the Clean Hydrogen Partnership (organisation co-financed by the European Commission and the private sector which supports research and innovation activities in hydrogen technologies in Europe). Aymeric started with this study two years ago when he arrived at Deloitte and now it is coming to an end. “The objective”, he says, “was to conduct an extensive scenario-based prospective analysis of the potential hydrogen demand and supply in European ports and industrial coastal areas in 2030, 2040, and 2050. From there to define the required hydrogen value chain infrastructures and a no-regrets investment roadmap for the development of hydrogen activities and infrastructure (production, import terminal, conversion, storage, transportation, refuelling stations and bunkering) in the vicinity of European ports. Additionally, we also carried out a three-level analysis aiming at identifying current technological (R&I) challenges, gaps in safety regulations, codes and standards and non-technical (policy, regulatory, governance, strategic) barriers for various hydrogen activities and infrastructure that ere expected to be rolled out in ports, and port areas.”


In the end they published three different reports, the last report focusing on real life case studies assessing the technical and economic viability of conducting various hydrogen-related activities in a port environment. He observed a lot of interests from the European Commission and from the industries because of the multitude of heavy industries (refineries, steel plants, chemical clusters) and heavy-duty transport activities (maritime, road freight) located in the vicinities of European ports. Tackling the issues of how to develop a hydrogen economy in port and industrial coastal areas would contribute to a great extent to the emergence of the clean hydrogen European market.



How long do you think it will take to develop this hydrogen market in the EU?


He replies, "It is expected to go step by step between now and 2050. The political objective of the EU Commission are very ambitions, by 2030 they want to have a fully-fledged cross-border clean hydrogen market in the EU, involving already very large production and consumption quantities. Experts are highly skeptical about whether or not this ambition is realistic. Right now, a first wave of large public and private investments is being launched to support big projects all along the value chain (production, distributions and consumption). Most of these first projects are expected to become operational between 2027 and 2030. From there the plan is then to ramp up the market in 2030s and 2040s. It will be progressive."


Achieving net-zero target and COPs


What role do you think big consultancy firms, like Deloitte, have in achieving Net Zero?


Consultancies are advisors, he says that their only goal is to help decision makers in the public and private sectors to find the right answers to their challenges. Therefore, Deloitte like other consultancies have the responsibility to support their clients (especially in the private sector) towards a greater integration of the planetary boundaries in their core business model. When it comes to advising policy decision makers, "our role is more to support them in shaping the enabling regulatory and economic environment for accelerating the transition towards net-zero society."



Does the final agreement of COP28 to ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels have any impact on Europe and the industry you work in?


Aymeric Bricout

In Europe this will not have an impact as it has been a few years already that transitioning away from fossil fuels has been accepted and politically enacted at the EU level with the EU climate law and the fit for 55 package. The Net Zero 2050 objective is a given from a political perspective in the vast majority of the European member states. Now we see that sectors of the economy have decarbonisation roadmaps by 2050. He adds, "I would not say that the decision made at the COP this year will have no implications for the European economy, but it is a significant milestone mostly for other regions in the world."



What role do you think the EU should take in the energy transition?


To answer this question, he starts off with a powerful statement that “The EU does not really have a choice but to be a leader.” He adds, that from a moral perspective, the EU bears a big chunk of the past and present greenhouse gas emissions along with the US and China. The EU has the brains and the money to create new technologies that are not profitable today, like CCS and hydrogen. The EU has the competencies and financial means to bring those technologies to a market level where it is competitive and then to export those technologies, when they become profitable, to other countries. From a technology perspective that is the role of Europe.

“The EU does not really have a choice but to be a leader.”

From a diplomatic perspective, the Senior Consultant says that “the EU has a role to keep putting pressure on other countries to draft plans to become Net Zero by 2050 and to have a net-zero transition plan.”



Are you an optimist or a pessimist when it comes to climate change and the future?


For the Paris Agreement it is realistic to say that the objective of staying below 2°C is not going to be met. Just by looking at the IPCC latest report, you see that it is highly unlikely that global warning will be contained to +2°C. Now the question is whether we will have 2.5°C, 3°C or 4°C the narrative for our societies and the global state of the planet will drastically differ depending on which pathway we choose to follow. 


When asked if he think COP28 would have a real strong impact, he shared “I am not sure that COPs play a big role. My understanding of COP is that beforehand, national countries have already enacted their decisions and then the COP is only a forum to announce what has been previously agreed upon. I would not overestimate the impact of COPs on the energy and climate transition, I think most of the work is being done at the national levels.”



What advice would you have for young people who want to enter the industry?


First, he would advise to identify where you are good at, because there are many ways to contribute to the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable and circular economy. He then reflected on his own experience to state that “Myself I am good at analysing, writing, and organising ideas in a manner that makes sense for people, so consultancy, research, these kind of desk jobs are good for me.”


While on the other hand, he says that other people are good at convincing people, therefore those people might be better in the lobbying or business world.


As someone from the consulting world, he advises people to go into that sector if you have good analytical skills, if you like to be challenged, to reflect with other very smart people on how to shape and how to defend your advice.


When asked what type of specific action students should take to build their experience, he adds that “One of the quick wins is to get involved in university societies. If you are good at writing, for your master thesis try to go further and get your work published. It was a great asset for me when it came to apply for jobs. Finally, internships are key to build that experience. If possible, try to take a year off to do two six-month internships.”


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Aymeric Bricout interviewed by Natalia Vasnier for The Conference Corner. Featured cover picture provided by Aymeric Bricout.

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