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People Driving Change: Christophe Banos

NEWS AND EVENTS
Category: People
date: 11 January 2021

Next up in our People Driving Change series is Christophe Banos, Portfolio Development Manager for Pivot Power. When he’s not stealing a scene as an extra on the latest upcoming blockbuster movie, Christophe is working to take Pivot Power’s 40-strong project portfolio from vision to reality. Having already done the same for EDF Renewables’ 49MW West Burton B battery, we can’t think of a better person for the job!

 

What does your role involve?

My role has two strands. The first one is essentially to align the 40 sites that Pivot Power has and prioritise them, taking into account the many moving parts that compose such projects, such as the maturity of land, planning, grid connection and the potential for private wire uptake.

And the second is actually to look at the sites that are coming over the next two to three years, and put them into the internal governance approval. Creating the investment case to support them, project managing and coordinating the different workstreams that inform those investment cases.

What’s the best thing about working at Pivot Power?

To start with, it is quite amazing to work on such a great portfolio – that includes the battery storage and the private wire model, which share a common electrical infrastructure. But it’s not only about the portfolio. Clearly, it’s about the people and what the co-founders of Pivot Power have been able to create. If I had to highlight one element that really makes it amazing, it is that everyone has got each other’s back. So it’s difficult, it’s fast moving, it’s innovative and it’s complex – but everyone is working together. And if we face challenges, we look after each other, which is really excellent.

What attracted you to working in the energy sector?

I think the spark for me started at university. I was reading an article all about renewable energy. I just loved the simple beauty. I thought it’s quite amazing to harness natural resources and create energy, especially at grid-scale. I knew it was niche – that was 20 years ago, it was not the flavour of the month. All my peers thought about management consultancy, investment banking, and I just decided to take a bit of a risk.

I decided to look for job opportunities and EDF was implementing more and more projects in the UK. Being French, I knew them as a company and decided to apply for a job, and I started as a graduate 15 years ago.

What has been your career highlight to date?

About three years ago we looked at a potential tender for National Grid called ‘Enhanced Frequency Response’ which was a bit niche. I had the task to learn a little bit more about this for EDF Renewables, and essentially, from there on, what transpires is the project that I led to put the 49MW West Burton B Battery into operation. Clearly, that was a stepping stone into the Pivot Power acquisition, and now looking after the portfolio is really, really amazing.

Who inspires you?

I think it’s a variety of people. I’m a bit like a sponge and if I see a behaviour that is really positive and leads to excellent results, I learn from it and I say to myself ‘that was just excellent, the way this has all been done really’.

If you weren’t at Pivot Power what would you be doing?

I think I would probably do something related with the ocean. I don’t live anywhere near the sea, I didn’t grow up anywhere near the sea, but I just love it.

What change do you hope to see in the energy sector over the next decade?

A decade is quite a short timeframe in the energy sector, so I really want to see actions behind all the statements around net zero. For us at Pivot Power, we need to build robust business cases and put projects and ideas into action. And government leaders need to put their words into action with robust regulatory and policy frameworks. That will underpin everything and act as a catalyst.

How can Pivot Power help make this a reality?

EDF group has ambitious energy storage and e-mobility plans, which include delivering multi-GWs of storage by 2035. Pivot Power is at the core of those plans and is able to really deliver by deploying our portfolio to meet those targets,

If you could have dinner with three people, who would it be?

So allow me to indulge in a little bit of daydreaming, I would definitely have David Attenborough at the table, but I would also have Christopher Nolan, a famous British director, and the third person I would have is my daughter, Chloe. She is 13 years old, and I would like her to hear, first-hand, what David has to say.

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