In the daily life of a lawyer specializing in energy transition


Lummer fires, record heat and apocalyptic-sounding climate forecasts have overshadowed the rare good news on the clean energy front. Among them, the first low-carbon hydrogen TER was put into circulation at the beginning of August, in Bagnères-de-Luchon (Haute-Garonne). “Hydrogen will enable us to reduce our energy dependence on oil, which it will eventually replace, but we are still very late. China will soon be one of the leading producers of renewable energies,” notes lawyer Sylvie Perrin, partner at De Gaulle Fleurance et Associés. It advises one of the main players in rail mobility, the giant Alstom, which this year won the first order for fourteen dual-mode electricity-hydrogen trains in France placed by SNCF Voyageurs. “The projects are multiplying. Total, Engie and smaller market players are embarking on this sector of the future”, rejoices this specialist in renewable energies who has put her passion, ecology, at the service of her profession.

Strategies for industry titans

After her morning jog in the streets of Paris, she continues her files which sometimes occupy her more than twelve hours a day and part of the weekend. A marathon during which she sets up, with her teams, tailor-made strategies for titanic operations. It is consulted upstream on major projects for giant factories (gigafactories), storage and hydrogen production. “The challenge of tomorrow is to produce renewable hydrogen, which is not yet profitable,” she explains. This hydrogen, produced mainly by electrolysis of water from renewable electricity, is, in particular, the activity of the Nantes start-up Lhyfe, which sells it to communities. Lhyfe aims to be the first company in the world to set up off-shore hydrogen production. “We are involved at different stages of the project: drafting contracts for the purchase of electricity and the sale of hydrogen, negotiation of fundraising with the regional bank and the Swen capital investment fund, etc. “, details the lawyer.

The challenge is to produce renewable hydrogen, which is not yet profitable.Sylvie Perrin, lawyer

Another popular sector is that of electric mobility. This is the core business of another client of the firm, the Grenoble-based company Verkor. Thanks to the recent partnership forged with Renault, it will build the first low-carbon battery cell gigafactory in France. “This project, supported by the Ministry of Industry, will allow French companies to no longer depend on Chinese or Korean batteries”, notes Me Perrin.

READ ALSOWind turbines: headwinds in macronie

The lawyer also supports companies in their transition to carbon neutrality. Some reduce their electricity bills through the use of low-consumption lamps (LED), waste heat recovery systems (from ovens, boilers, etc.), refrigeration units or even photovoltaic installations. Others earn carbon credits by reforesting forests. “Investing in reforestation allows you to reduce your carbon footprint and avoid paying penalties related to pollution,” explains the lawyer.

Betting on agrivoltaism

But this good ecological conscience is not enough. One of the main levers of the energy transition resides, according to the lawyer, in renewable energies and in particular so-called “photovoltaic” solar energy. The “Green Platform” that Sylvie Perrin launched in 2018 promotes its use in agriculture. Agrivoltaism consists of covering agricultural production (fruits, vegetables, livestock, etc.) with a removable and adjustable roof based on photovoltaic panels, which provides shade in the event of excessive heat and protects crops or animals. It also serves as a gutter for rainwater and as a reserve well in times of drought. “The firm is often asked about emerging regulations in the sector, about partnerships between farmers and energy companies or even about projects to bring green electricity to data centers. »

I never plead, I’m a planner.Sylvie Perrin, lawyer

At a time when climate anger is on the rise, Sylvie Perrin, a member of various ecological associations, such as Greenpeace, is more committed than ever. In 2021, it launched the Energy Transitions Observatory, which draws up an annual inventory of the way in which the courts and public authorities support these transitions in France and in “model” countries. Its desire to make itself useful to a vital cause joins that of contributing through the law to the development of new projects. “The green sector has made it possible to decentralize energy, to accelerate the end of EDF’s monopoly on electricity. The long-awaited opening up of the TGV and TER trains to competition will put an end to the SNCF monopoly,” rejoices the lawyer, whose heart naturally leans towards the competitors of these historical suppliers. “I never plead, I am a project maker. Litigation responds to the opposite logic, it is deconstruction. »


Leave a Comment